We are already more than halfway done with the INBRE internship program and the time is flying by. After finishing up the beginning training, I’ve been becoming more familiar with the lab. The others that are working in my lab have been so great about answering questions I have and walking me through procedures. I have also been learning about some of the other projects my lab mates have been working on and it’s exciting to see how I can apply what these individuals are learning to the project I’ve been working on for INBRE. I’ve also learned how to cinematize videos and I’m in the process of learning how to score them. Soon I’ll be collecting my own data that I’ll be able to analyze.
My project is comparing the behavior of a mother rat towards healthy pups compared to pups with neural damage. In rats, maternal behavior has such a necessary role in the neurobehavioral development of the pups. The more the pups are licked or groomed by the mother, the more stimulated they become, leading to a stronger development of the nervous system of the pup. The results of the experiment will determine if the behavior is increased, decreased, or remains constant. If there is an increase in maternal behavior, the recovery of the pup would be increased due to the stimulation received. However, if maternal behavior decreases, this would decrease the healing process, leading to even greater neurobehavioral deficits.
As Dr Brumley’s lab has been reading “The Developing Genome: Introduction to Behavioral Epigenetics” by David S Moore, I’ve been able to relate a lot of the information there to my INBRE project. The term ‘epigenetic’ means above genes, and the theory is that who we are isn’t only influenced by genes, it is also influenced by the environment around us (for example, the nervous system of the rat pups is influenced by the behavior the mother shows to it). My experience with INBRE has been so fulfilling. I’ve learned so much in such a short amount of time, and I still feel that there’s so much to explore.