Development of an Animal Model for the Cognitive Deficits Observed in Post-Traumatic
Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Instructor: Megan St. Peters, Ph.D.
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