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A Review of Podcast Impact and Implications for Education and Beyond

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The world of podcasting has exploded in popularity in recent years. This medium is being used in education as well as in the public sector to share ideas, news, and stories. This paper reviews the research behind podcast success as

The world of podcasting has exploded in popularity in recent years. This medium is being used in education as well as in the public sector to share ideas, news, and stories. This paper reviews the research behind podcast success as a news form and in the educational sector and the implications of these findings for the future. Podcast listeners tend to listen to podcasts for entertainment and, notably, to diversify their time while completing other tasks. New ways to directly stream media from portable devices and advances in the internet have helped bolster the popularity of this media form. Podcasting proved to be successful in higher education as students tended to perform better when given access to podcasts. However, they were only successful when using podcasts as classroom adjuncts. This implies that educational podcasts must be produced differently than ones intended for the public. By reviewing the neuroscience behind language, emotion and memory, it was found that narrative formats that also evoked emotions had a positive ability in enhancing the listeners learning and memory. Keeping this in mind, the developed podcast aimed to bridge educational material to the general public by utilizing narrative as a vessel in which to deliver complex information about medicine, science and neuroscience. The accessibility and virtually non-existent barriers to the podcasting world offer a breadth of knowledge and opinions that have numerous factors of social influence. The impact of podcasting on the modern world deserves more research in sociology and psychology as it continues to grow in popularity.

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Date Created
2019-05

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An Evaluation of the Levonorgestrel-Releasing Intrauterine Device and its Impact on Cognitive Function in a Rat Model

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The aim of this study was to determine whether IUD administration, with and without the presence of Levo, and with and without the presence of the ovaries, impacts cognition in a rat model. Rats received either Sham or Ovariectomy (Ovx)

The aim of this study was to determine whether IUD administration, with and without the presence of Levo, and with and without the presence of the ovaries, impacts cognition in a rat model. Rats received either Sham or Ovariectomy (Ovx) surgery (removal of the ovaries), plus either no IUD, a Blank IUD (without Levo), or a Levo-releasing IUD (Levo IUD), enabling us to evaluate the effects of Ovx and the effects of IUD administration on cognition. Two weeks after surgery, all treatment groups were tested on the water radial arm maze, Morris water maze, and visible platform task to evaluate cognition. At sacrifice, upon investigation of the uteri, it was determined that some of the IUDs were no longer present in animals from these groups: Sham\u2014Blank IUD, Ovx\u2014Blank IUD, and Sham\u2014Levo IUD. Results from the remaining three groups showed that compared to Sham animals with no IUDs, Ovx animals with no IUDs had marginally impaired working memory performance, and that Ovx animals with Levo IUDs as compared to Ovx animals with no IUDs had marginally enhanced memory performance, not specific to a particular memory type. Results also showed that Ovx animals with Levo IUDs had qualitatively more cells in their vaginal smears and increased uterine horn weight compared to Ovx animals with no IUDs, suggesting local stimulation of the Levo IUDs to the uterine horns. Overall, these results provide alternative evidence to the hypothesis that the Levo IUD administers Levo in solely a localized manner, and suggests that the possibility for the Levo IUD to affect reproductive cyclicity in ovary-intact animals is not rejected. The potential for the Levo IUD to exert effects on cognition suggests that either the hormone does in fact systemically circulate, or that the Levo IUD administration affects cognition by altering an as yet undetermined hormonal or other feedback between the uterus and the brain.

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Date Created
2018-12

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Hyperactive ERK/MAPK Regulates Cortical GABAergic Neuron Development

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Aberrant signaling through the canonical RAS/RAF/MEK/ERK (ERK/MAPK) pathway leads to the pathology of a group of neurodevelopmental disorders called RASopathies. RASopathies are caused by germline mutations in the ERK/MAPK pathway and have an incidence of approximately 1:2000 births. The majority

Aberrant signaling through the canonical RAS/RAF/MEK/ERK (ERK/MAPK) pathway leads to the pathology of a group of neurodevelopmental disorders called RASopathies. RASopathies are caused by germline mutations in the ERK/MAPK pathway and have an incidence of approximately 1:2000 births. The majority of RASopathies stem from mutations that cause gain-of-function in the ERK/MAPK pathway. In this study, we have begun to unravel the roles that GABAergic interneurons play in the pathology of RASopathies. Our data demonstrate that gain-of-function ERK/MAPK signaling expressed in a GABAergic interneuron-specific fashion leads to forebrain hyperexcitability in mutant mice. Further, some GABAergic interneurons experience activated-caspase 3 mediated apoptosis in the embryonic subpallium, leading to a loss of PV-expressing interneurons in the somatosensory cortex. We found that pharmaceutical intervention during embryogenesis using a MEK1 inhibitor may be effective in preventing apoptosis of these neurons. Future work is still needed to understand the mechanism of the death of GABAergic interneurons and to further pursue therapeutic approaches. Taken together, this study suggests potential roles of cortical GABAergic interneurons in ERK/MAPK-linked pathologies and indicates possible approaches to provide therapy for these conditions.

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2019-05

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A Mechanistic Model of Art Therapy

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The goal of my study is to test the overarching hypothesis that art therapy is effective because it targets emotional dysregulation that often accompanies significant health stressors. By reducing the salience of illness-related stressors, art therapy may improve overall mood

The goal of my study is to test the overarching hypothesis that art therapy is effective because it targets emotional dysregulation that often accompanies significant health stressors. By reducing the salience of illness-related stressors, art therapy may improve overall mood and recovery, particularly in patients with cancer. After consulting the primary literature and review papers to develop psychological and neural mechanisms at work in art therapy, I created a hypothetical experimental procedure to test these hypotheses to explain why art therapy is helpful to patients with chronic illness. Studies found that art therapy stimulates activity of multiple brain regions involved in memory retrieval and the arousal of emotions. I hypothesize that patients with chronic illness have a reduced capacity for emotion regulation, or difficulty recognizing, expressing or altering illness-related emotions (Gross & Barrett, 2011). Further I hypothesize that art therapy improves mood and therapeutic outcomes by acting on the emotion-processing regions of the limbic system, and thereby facilitating the healthy expression of emotion, emotional processing, and reappraisal. More mechanistically, I propose art therapy reduces the perception or salience of stressors by reducing amygdala activity leading to decreased activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. The art therapy literature and my hypothesis about its mechanisms of action became the basis of my proposed study. To assess the effectiveness of art therapy in alleviating symptoms of chronic disease, I am specifically targeting patients with cancer who exhibit a lack of emotional regulation. Saliva is collected 3 times a week on the day of intervention: morning after waking, afternoon, and evening. Stress levels are tested using one-hour art therapy sessions over the course of 3 months. The Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) assesses an individual's perceived stress and feelings in past and present situations, for the control and intervention group. To measure improvement in overall mood, 10 one-hour art sessions are performed on patients over 10 weeks. A one-hour discussion analyzing the participants' artwork follows each art session. The Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) assesses overall mood for the intervention and control groups. I created rationale and predictions based on the intended results of each experiment.

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Date Created
2018-05

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Role of Egr3 in Regulation of DNA Repair

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Egr3 is an immediate early gene transcription factor that shows genetic association with schizophrenia, and is found in decreased levels in the brains of schizophrenia patients. Schizophrenia patients also exhibit cognitive and memory deficits, both of which Egr3 has been

Egr3 is an immediate early gene transcription factor that shows genetic association with schizophrenia, and is found in decreased levels in the brains of schizophrenia patients. Schizophrenia patients also exhibit cognitive and memory deficits, both of which Egr3 has been shown to play a crucial role in. Additionally, high levels of DNA damage are found in the brains of schizophrenia patients. A recent study has shown that DNA damage occurs as a result of normal physiological activity in neurons and is required for induction of gene expression of a subset of early response genes. Also, failure to repair this damage can lead to gene expression in a constitutive switched on state. Egr3 knockout (Egr3-/-) mice show deficits in hippocampal synaptic plasticity and memory. We were interested in characterizing downstream targets of EGR3 in the hippocampus. To determine these targets, electroconvulsive seizure (ECS) was carried out in Egr3 -/- versus wild type (WT) mice, and a microarray study was first done in our lab. ECS maximally stimulates Egr3 expression and we hypothesized that there would be gene targets that are differentially expressed between Egr3 -/- and WT mice that had been subjected to ECS. Two separate analyses of the microarray yielded 65 common genes that were determined as being differentially expressed between WT and Egr3 -/- mice after ECS. Further Ingenuity Pathway Analysis of these 65 genes indicated the Gadd45 signaling pathway to be the top canonical pathway, with the top four pathways all being associated with DNA damage or DNA repair. A literature survey was conducted for these 65 genes and their associated pathways, and 12 of the 65 genes were found to be involved in DNA damage response and/or DNA repair. Validation of differential expression was then conducted for each of the 12 genes, in both the original male cohort used for microarray studies and an additional female cohort of mice. 7 of these genes validated through quantitative real time PCR (qRT-PCR) in the original male cohort used for the microarray study, and 4 validated in both the original male cohort and an independent female cohort. Bioinformatics analysis yielded predicted EGR3 binding sites in promoters of these 12 genes, validating their role as potential transcription targets of EGR3. These data reveal EGR3 to be a novel regulator of DNA repair. Further studies will be needed to characterize the role of Egr3 in repairing DNA damage.

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Date Created
2018-05

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Specificity of Auditory Modulation during Speech Planning

Description

Previous research has showed that auditory modulation may be affected by pure tone
stimuli played prior to the onset of speech production. In this experiment, we are examining the
specificity of the auditory stimulus by implementing congruent and incongruent speech

Previous research has showed that auditory modulation may be affected by pure tone
stimuli played prior to the onset of speech production. In this experiment, we are examining the
specificity of the auditory stimulus by implementing congruent and incongruent speech sounds in
addition to non-speech sound. Electroencephalography (EEG) data was recorded for eleven adult
subjects in both speaking (speech planning) and silent reading (no speech planning) conditions.
Data analysis was accomplished manually as well as via generation of a MATLAB code to
combine data sets and calculate auditory modulation (suppression). Results of the P200
modulation showed that modulation was larger for incongruent stimuli than congruent stimuli.
However, this was not the case for the N100 modulation. The data for pure tone could not be
analyzed because the intensity of this stimulus was substantially lower than that of the speech
stimuli. Overall, the results indicated that the P200 component plays a significant role in
processing stimuli and determining the relevance of stimuli; this result is consistent with role of
P200 component in high-level analysis of speech and perceptual processing. This experiment is
ongoing, and we hope to obtain data from more subjects to support the current findings.

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Date Created
2020-05

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Elucidating the Effects of PRAS40 on Learning and Memory

Description

The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is integral in regulating cell growth as it maintains a homeostatic balance of proteins by modulating their synthesis and degradation. In the brain, mTOR regulates protein-driven neuroplastic changes that modulate learning and memory. Nevertheless,

The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is integral in regulating cell growth as it maintains a homeostatic balance of proteins by modulating their synthesis and degradation. In the brain, mTOR regulates protein-driven neuroplastic changes that modulate learning and memory. Nevertheless, upregulation of mTOR can cause detrimental effect in spatial memory and synaptic plasticity. The proline-rich Akt-substrate 40 kDa (PRAS40) is a key negative regulator of mTOR, as it binds mTOR and directly reduces its activity. To investigate the role of PRAS40 on learning and memory, we generated a transgenic mouse model in which we used the tetracycline-off system to regulate the expression of PRAS40 specifically in neurons of the hippocampus. After induction, we found that mice overexpressing PRAS40 performed better than control mice in the Morris Water Maze behavioral test. We further show that the improvement in memory was associated with a decrease in mTOR signaling, an increase in dendritic spines in hippocampal pyramidal neurons, and an increase in the levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a neurotrophin necessary for learning and memory. This is the first evidence that shows that increasing PRAS40 in the mouse brain enhances learning and memory deficits.

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Date Created
2018-05

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Serotonin 2A receptor (5-HT2AR) expression after sleep deprivation and possible implications for schizophrenia risk

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ABSTRACT
Environmental and genetic factors influence schizophrenia risk. Individuals who have direct family members with schizophrenia have a much higher incidence. Also, acute stress or life crisis may precede the onset of the disease. This study aims to understand the

ABSTRACT
Environmental and genetic factors influence schizophrenia risk. Individuals who have direct family members with schizophrenia have a much higher incidence. Also, acute stress or life crisis may precede the onset of the disease. This study aims to understand the effects of environment on genes related to schizophrenia risk. It investigates the impact of sleep deprivation as an acute environmental stressor on the expression of Htr2a in mice, a gene that codes for the serotonin 2A receptor (5-HT2AR). HTR2A is associated with schizophrenia risk through genetic association studies and expression is decreased in post-mortem studies of patients with the disease. Furthermore, sleep deprivation as a stressor in human trials has been shown to increase the binding capacity of 5-HT2AR. We hypothesize that sleep deprivation will increase the number of cells expressing Htr2a in the mouse anterior prefrontal cortex when compared to controls. Sleep deprived that mice express EGFP under control of the Htr2a promoter displayed anteroposterior gradients of expression across sagittal sections, with concentrations seen most densely within the prefrontal cortex as well as the anterior pretectal nucleus, thalamic nucleus, as well as the cingulate gyrus. Htr2a-EGFP expression was most densely visualized in cortical layer V and VI pyramidal neurons within the lateral prefrontal cortex of coronal sections. Furthermore, the medial prefrontal cortex contained significantly cells expressing Htr2a¬-EGFP than the lateral prefrontal cortex. Ultimately, the hypothesis was not supported and sleep deprivation did not result in more ¬Htr2a-EGFP expressing cells compared to basal levels. However, expressing cells appeared visibly brighter in sleep-deprived animals when compared to controls, indicating that the amount of intracellular Htr2a-GFP expression may be higher. This study provides strong visual representations of expression gradients following sleep deprivation as an acute stressor and paves the way for future studies regarding 5H-T2AR’s role in schizophrenia.

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Date Created
2015-05

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Thinking Brains: An Introduction to Neuroscientific Thought

Description

An introduction to neuroscientific thought aimed at an audience that is not educated in biology. Meant to be readable and easily understood by anyone with a high school education. The first section is completed in its entirety, with outlines for

An introduction to neuroscientific thought aimed at an audience that is not educated in biology. Meant to be readable and easily understood by anyone with a high school education. The first section is completed in its entirety, with outlines for the proposed final sections to be completed over the next few years.

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Date Created
2014-05

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The Neurochemical Consequences of Music Therapy on Dementia Patients

Description

As the incidence of dementia continues to rise, the need for an effective and non-invasive method of intervention has become increasingly imperative. Music therapy has exhibited these qualities in addition to relatively low implementation costs, therefore establishing itself as a

As the incidence of dementia continues to rise, the need for an effective and non-invasive method of intervention has become increasingly imperative. Music therapy has exhibited these qualities in addition to relatively low implementation costs, therefore establishing itself as a promising means of therapeutic intervention. In this review, current research was investigated in order to determine its effectiveness and uncover the neurochemical mechanisms that lead to positive manifestations such as improved memory recall, increased social affiliation, increased motivation, and decreased anxiety. Music therapy has been found to improve several aspects of memory recall. One proposed mechanism involves temporal entrainment, during which the melodic structures present in music provide a framework for chunking information. Although entrainment's role in the treatment of motor defects has been thoroughly studied, its role in treating cognitive disorders is still relatively new. Musicians have also been shown to demonstrate extensive plastic changes; therefore, it is hypothesized that non-musicians may also glean some benefits from engaging in music. Social affiliation has been found to increase due to increases in endogenous oxytocin. Oxytocin has also been shown to strengthen hippocampal spike transmission, a promising outcome for Alzheimer's patients. An increase in motivation has also been found to occur due to music's ability to tap into the reward center of the brain. Dopaminergic transmission between the VTA, NAc and higher functioning regions such as the OFC and hypothalamus has been revealed. Additionally, relaxing music decreases stress levels and modifies associated autonomic processes, i.e. heart rate, blood pressure, and respiratory rate. On the contrary, stimulating music has been found to initiate sympathetic nervous system activity. This is thought to occur by either a reflexive brainstem response or stimulus interpretation by the amygdala.

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Date Created
2016-05