Robin Shafer

 Robin Shafer
Mentor: Dr. Mark Lewis
College of Medicine
 
"I have always had a fascination with the brain, and I have always wanted to know how it functions to produce thought and behavior. After volunteering at Kris' Camp (a summer therapy camp for autistic children) I wanted to understand the differences between the neurotypical brain and the autistic brain so that I could help make life easier for these individuals. Research provides me with the opportunity to apply my curiosity for the brain to help people I care about."

Major

IDS Neurobiology

Minor

French

Research Interests

  • Autism
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

Academic Awards

  • Deans List
  • Honors Program

Organizations

  • Neuroscience Club

Volunteer

  • Kris' Camp

Hobbies and Interests

  • Playing saxophone
  • Traveling

Research Description

Evaluation of Higher Order Repetitive Behavior in Mouse Models
Our lab uses two strains of mice to model restricted repetitive behavior, which is one of the diagnostic criteria for autism. These disorders can be classified as either lower order (such as stereotypic behaviors or self injurious behaviors) or higher order (such as resistance to change or repetitive speech). Our lab has previously characterized reduced activity in the indirect basal as being responsible for the lower order behaviors. For my project, I am using reversal learning and extinction learning of an operant task to identify whether or not our mouse models of the lower order behaviors can also serve as models for higher order repetitive behaviors. If they can, I will determine if reduced activity in the indirect basal ganglia pathway is also associated with these higher order behaviors.