Freshman Scholars Program 2013

Development of an Animal Model for the Cognitive Deficits Observed in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Instructor:  Megan St. Peters, Ph.D.


Project Description:

Up to two students interested in psychology and animal research; students should be open to handling and maintaining close interactions with rodents.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is of growing concern in the United States. Not only are cognitive deficits a symptom of PTSD, but they are believed to reveal susceptibility to PTSD as well. Determining the neural substrates of these cognitive deficits is crucial to the prevention, early intervention, and treatment of PTSD. Unfortunately, there are currently no animal models of the cognitive impairments associated with PTSD. The proposed study will characterize attentional deficits in an animal model of the psychological symptoms of PTSD by using a sophisticated sustained attention task in which cognitive demands can be varied. This study will form the foundation necessary to explore the range of cognitive and associated neural deficits in an animal model of PTSD by determining whether this model also mimics the cognitive deficits associated in PTSD.  This project will include extensive hands-on research, a writing assignment, and oral and poster presentations.


Megan St. Peters, Ph.D.

Dr. St. Peters has a general interest in the neural basis of cognition, particularly learning and memory. She is specifically interested in understanding the cognitive decline associated with psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as healthy and aberrant aging (dementia). Her goal is to better understand the behavioral manifestations and neural networks responsible for cognitive decline. Toward this end, she uses rodent models, neural surgeries, and a variety of behavioral tasks.

If you have specific questions about this project, please contact Dr. St. Peters directly at MStpeters@ferrum.edu.

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