I am a PhD student in Dr. Stephen Cowen's Decision-Making and Learning lab. I earned my B.A. from the University of California, San Diego where I studied philosophy, specializing in philosophy of neuroscience. I then traveled to the Netherlands where I worked in the Cognitive Science Center, Amsterdam and the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience while completing a M.Sc. in Brain and Cognitive Science from the University of Amsterdam. After returning to the U.S. I moved to Tucson to begin work towards my PhD at the University of Arizona.
My primary research interests are in the neural substrates of decision-making. Particularly, I'm interested in how phasic changes in the neurotransmitter dopamine may code things like effort and cost during decison-making processes. In order to study this I use in-vivo electrophysiology and fast-scan cyclic voltammetry (FSCV), which allows the study sub-second changes in dopamine levels in awake, behaving rats.
Through a collaboration with the Heien lab in the University of Arizona's Department of Chemistry I am also involved in a project that uses a new technique, fast scan controlled-absorption voltammetry (FSCAV), to monitor tonic levels of dopamine following ketamine administration.
Daniel is interested in the neurophysiology of learning, reward, and motivation and how it is affected in disease states such as chronic pain and Parkinson’s. His research currently focuses on top-down modulation of the basal ganglia by the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). The mPFC modulates basal ganglia output indirectly via projections to the midbrain and via direct projections to the basal ganglia. These projections are important in working memory, behavior acquisition, and motivation in the context of learning. Further, dysregulation of top down modulation (e.g., in chronic pain or Parkinson’s) may lead to learning and/or cognitive deficits. Daniel is studying top down modulation of the basal ganglia in both normal and disease models by measuring dopamine release (using fast-scan cyclic voltammetry) and electrophysiologic output in the basal ganglia in conjunction with electrical and optogenetic manipulation of medial prefrontal efferents. His long term goal is to develop an integrative understanding of how top-down input is affected during cognitive decline in disease models and in healthy aging in order to develop pharmacological interventions that can lead to improved cognitive function.
DR. Tony Ye (JUST GRADUATED: AUG 2018)
I am a 3rd year graduate student in the Cognition & Neural Systems Psychology Ph.D. program. I received my B.A. in Television, Film, and Media Studies (2010) from California State University, Los Angeles. Following a brief career in the film industry, I decided to pursue my long-standing interest in the brain. I earned a M.A. in Psychology (2013) from California State University, Los Angeles, where I investigated the cognitive and behavioral effects of methamphetamine on adolescent rodents with Dr. Alicia Izquierdo. Currently, I am working with Dr. Stephen Cowen investigating the neural connectivity between the striatum and the anterior cingulate cortex, and their role in cost-benefit decision-making and foraging. Recently, my interests have focused on exploring the mechanisms of ketamine as a potential therapeutic treatment for motor dysfunction associated with Parkinson's disease.
DR. Jean-Paul Wiegand (GRADUATED: MAY 2018)
I am a 3rd year Ph.D. student in the Neuroscience Graduate Interdisciplinary Program. I attended Brandeis University, where I graduated with a B.S. and M.S. in Neuroscience. I am currently working with Dr. Stephen Cowen researching age-related and pathological changes in electrophysiological sleep patterns. In collaboration with Dr. Carol Barnes, we are exploring how changes in sleep architecture, specifically hippocampal ripples, might contribute to known age-related memory deficits. Moreover, classic symptomatic onset of Parkinson’s disease is preceded by sleep disorders such as REM sleep behavior disorder and hypersomnia. Accordingly, I am investigating cortical spindles in a transgenic mouse model of Parkinson’s disease.
Cameron Wilhite (GRADUATED: May 2018):
Zach Olsen (GRADUATED: May 2018)
Michael Miller (GRADUATED: May 2016)
Kathleen Gies (former Technician extraordinaire)
Matthew Schmit (Rotating PhD student: Now working with Dr. Haijiang Cai)
AND many fantastic undergraduate research assistants