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Exploring the Neural Bases of Cognitive Flexibility Through Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation

Project: 4
Name: Evangelia G. Chrysikou, PhD | lilachrysikou@drexel.edu
Department: Psychology

Description

Studies of flexible cognition using functional neuroimaging measures have revealed that generating novel solutions to common problems is associated with a specific pattern of brain activity characterized by reductions in the engagement of executive control frontal brain regions, and increased activity in posterior or subcortical brain regions. Building on these findings, this project aims to investigate the neural bases of flexible idea generation and evaluation by altering neural activity in different cortex regions using transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). TDCS is a noninvasive brain stimulation methodology that alters cortical excitability through the application of small electric currents via electrodes placed on the scalp. In a series of experiments, we will administer different flexible thinking tasks to participants receiving different montages of excitatory and inhibitory tDCS at 1.5mA administered through two electrodes over different parts of the brain. The purpose of the study is to contribute to our understanding of the precise involvement of different brain regions in flexible thought.

Gained Experience

The student will gain hands on experience with experimental design and methodology in neuroscience; they will further gain hands on experience with brain stimulation (and to some extent brain imaging) methods and data analyses. If the student is interested, we will work together to develop a project (e.g., a thesis) together that follows from this work for the following academic year.

Outcome

Article; data may also be used in a grant proposal in the fall.

Tasks

Preparing stimuli for the experiment; setting up the experiment, piloting participants; testing participants on the brain stimulation protocol; assist in data analysis.

Location

Drexel psychology department (Stratton Hall); electrical brain stimulation laboratory.

Possibility to Work Post Fellowship

Absolutely; students will be strongly encouraged to stay in the lab for the following academic year to continue working on this and other projects.