SURF

Emily Nguyen

Characterization of 3D Rat-Reaching Kinematics

Behavior is the output of complex neural computations in the brain; however, our understanding of how the motor cortex controls movement is not yet fully understood. This project investigates the key gap of knowledge in this field by demonstrating through quantification general principles of motor learning and coordination in a systems-neuroscience paradigm. To achieve this goal, I will analyze the variability of high-dimensional behavioral data during a novel 3D rat-reaching task. No motor behavior, such as a reach for a glass of water, is ever the same. There is always variability. I hypothesize the variability of representative kinematics is structured, with variability increasing in the direction of the dimension of the task. Since animals behave in 3D, leveraging tools for better quantification of complex reaching behavior like 3D rat kinematics is important. This project seeks to provide a basis for understanding the link between neural systems and behavior.

Message to Sponsor

The research experience with SURF has enhanced my sense of independence and self-confidence because this was my first time conducting and presenting a student-initiated project. I found meetings with my mentor and SURF small group to be highly motivational and informative experiences. Moreover, I plan to continue with further analysis in this research direction. It is an honor to be a recipient of the Rose Hill Foundation.
  • Major: Computer Science
  • Sponsor: Rose Hill Foundation
  • Mentor: Kristofer Bouchard