A perfect image of a drosophila brain staining. Image provided by Hui Yang. (Dickman Lab)
(Neuroscience Graduate students Chien-Hua Wang-rear and Anna Kamitakahara – foreground) together with postdoc Karine Bouyer, PhD. (Simerly Lab)
Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, assistant professor of psychology at USC Dornsife’s Brain and Creativity Institute, is particularly interested in social emotions that promote learning, motivation and resilience, such as compassion, admiration and inspiration. Photo by Steve Cohn.
Functional activation of dorsal striatum (d-CPu) and rostral secondary motor cortex (rostral M2) are attenuated after dopaminergic deafferentation of the d-CPu and are augmented by 4 weeks of exercise training (ET). (Holschneider Lab)
xE15 Motor Neuron Development: The Shh signaling pathway functions in a time- and concentration-dependent manner to specify ventral neural cell types within the developing central nervous system. (McMahon Lab)
Students and faculty in the USC Neuroscience Graduate Program study questions spanning the entire spectrum of modern neuroscience research. Key questions include:
- how do molecules work together in time and space to build functioning nerve cells?
- how do individual neurons and their interconnections lead to the emergent properties of neural circuits?
- how do the information processing functions of neural circuits lead to complex behaviors, memories, emotions, and thought?
Departing from the traditional focus on individual disciplines, USC Neuroscience is characterized by collaborative interactions between faculty and students working at many different levels of analysis, including research on cell-molecular neurobiology, systems-level analysis of neural circuits, neural engineering, and cognitive and computational neuroscience.
When combined with a varied curriculum, weekly seminars, an annual graduate student symposium, and an extremely active neuroscience graduate student forum, the USC Neuroscience Graduate Program provides a highly inter-disciplinary and supportive training experience designed to prepare students for a variety of successful careers.
December 2, 2013
By Robert Perkins
USC Dornsife’s Jennifer Achiro, a neuroscience doctoral student in Sarah Bottjer’s laboratory, is first author on a songbird study that could lead to better treatment of language disorders in children.
USC Dornsife scientists have discovered a population of neurons in the brains of juvenile songbirds that are necessary for allowing the birds to recognize the vocal sounds they are learning to imitate.
These neurons encode a memory of learned vocal sounds and form a crucial (and hitherto only theorized) part of the neural system that allows songbirds to hear, imitate and learn its species’ songs — just as human infants acquire speech sounds.
The discovery will allow scientists to uncover the exact neural mechanisms that allow songbirds to hear their own self-produced songs, compare them to the memory of the song that they are trying to imitate and then adjust their vocalizations accordingly.
Because this brain-behavior system is thought to be a model for how human infants learn to speak, understanding it could prove crucial to future understanding and treatment of language disorders in children. In both songbirds and humans, feedback of self-produced vocalizations is compared to memorized vocal sounds and progressively refined to achieve a correct imitation.
October 4, 2013
The USC Young Researchers Program enables those typically underrepresented within the scientific community access to research. Through laboratory exposure and group presentations on research, this program stimulates a passion for science in both its young participants and USC mentors. The USC Neuroscience Graduate Program is a proud sponsor of the Young Researchers Program and is thrilled to be a part of a platform that not only increases interest in science, but also encourages individuals to achieve a college education.