Sidnee Zeiser

Major: Biomedical Engineering
Engineering and Technology
Mentor: Dr. Amol Yadav

The Use of Operant Conditioning and Spinal Cord Stimulation for Assessment of Sensory Detection Following Optogenetic Inhibition in Rats

Neurological impairment resulting in damage to the nervous system limits the use of patients’ normal sensory feedback systems. However, the exact nature of these sensory pathways is not well understood due to the limitations of existing technologies. Recently, optogenetics has been used to develop models that allow for the inhibition of various neural areas, thus simulating a disease state. When used in neural engineering practices, the perception of peripheral sensory information and the neurological pathways can be assessed. Previously implemented techniques used to observe and control the various aspects of healthy or impaired nervous systems have proven to be neither precise or reliable enough for robust control. As a result, there is the clinical need for development of optogenetic technologies that would not only provide insight to the function of damaged neural regions but could also be used as treatment tools themselves. We’ve integrated an operant conditioning protocol for rat models in order to establish an efficient and consistent means of conducting behavioral training for the future optogenetic experiments. Prospective studies plan to investigate whether optogenetic inhibition of different brain areas will impact behavior of rats as they perform a sensory detection task.