The Neuroscience Anthology project is a part of the INI Internship program. In addition to shadowing Dr. Vokshoor in clinic and in surgery, students in the internship program pick a neuroscience topic and complete an outside research project, giving students a chance to further investigate an area of neuroscience that particularly interests them. Their reports are compiled here to create a working, growing neuroscience curriculum.

Below you can explore what some of our interns have been researching:

Microglia and Neurotoxicity

By Shane Daniel

“Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking”- Albert Einstein [6]. Einstein perfectly sums up the importance of the brain for cognitive functioning throughout our daily lives. Effective cognition results from an efficient functioning of the various molecular pathways in our brain. Let us focus on one molecular aspect of the brain- Microglia. Microglia are types of glial cells, which act as macrophages and are present throughout the Central Nervous System (CNS). These non-neuronal cells are responsible for the protection and support of neural activities. They are widely distributed throughout the brain and spinal cord and make up about 5-20% of glial cells within the CNS [1]. The two noteworthy features of the microglia are CNS maintenance and immune defense. An appropriate balance of microglial concentration is required to promote homeostasis of the CNS [1].

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Virtual Reality as a Tool to Treat and Diagnose PTSD

By Holly Contreras

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is more prevalent than ever and has created a significant behavioral healthcare challenge. PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that can occur in individuals who have experienced a traumatic event such as war combat, sexual assault, or a natural disaster. In an era following multiple wars and extremely high rates of reported sexual assault, our healthcare system is in need of a more effective method to diagnose and treat PTSD. Virtual reality exposure therapy (VRET) can address these issues in a more precise and objective way than current therapeutic practices.

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Brain - Gut Microbiota Connection

By Karen Jiang

The process of learning about the human biology generally tends to systematize and separate the body into discrete units and understand their function as disparate parts. This often translates into the clinical world of diagnoses and treatments where diseases are isolated to their corresponding systems—Parkinson’s disease is viewed under a neurodegenerative lens, or patients with irritable bowel syndrome are sent to a gastroenterologist.

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Surgical Robotics and Spinal Surgery: Looking Towards the Future

By Erin McAndrews

In a world of rapidly advancing technology and innovation, the medical field has experienced many drastic changes and developments throughout its history. From its debut in the medical field in 1985, the medical robot has left many surgeons with mixed emotions – from hopeful and excited to skeptical and cautious.

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Controlling the Brain with Optogenetics

By Scott Goldberg

Imagine controlling neuronal activity with nothing but a miniature flashlight. Shine the light on a set of neurons and they fire up, sending action potentials across the brain and back. Turn the light off and they’re back to resting state. Though perhaps a bit of an exaggeration, this idea basically captures the essence of optogenetics, which in more scientific terms refers to the use of light responsive “opsin” proteins to produce genetically modified neurons. Such neurons express light sensitive ion channels and fire when exposed to specific wavelengths of light. This neuromodulation method allows scientists to control and manipulate groups of simultaneously firing neurons, otherwise known as neuronal circuits, with unprecedented precision in order to see how they work together to produce movement, motivation, pain and many other neural functions.

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Gangliosides and Neurological Development

By Melissa Larcher

Recent developments in neuroscience have led to the discovery that glycolipid structures promote platelet activation and neuroinflammation, therefore having an imperative role neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease. Due to these recent developments new studies have shown that important developmental structures within the brain can also be a vital contributor towards finding preventative cures towards degenerative neural diseases.

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