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Brielle Ferguson

Brielle Ferguson headshot

Ruth L. Kirchstein NRSA Pre-doctoral Fellowship 2017

PhD candidate Neuroscience

Drexel faculty mentor: Wen-Jun-Gao

My introduction to research was during my undergraduate coursework at the University of Virginia. After taking a class titled, “The Neurobiology of Learning and Memory,” I became fascinated with how single neurons in the brain form circuits that can influence how we move throughout the world. Currently, my project involves understanding a fundamental building block of higher-order cognition, working memory, or the ability to transiently hold information in mind and manipulate it to flexibly guide behavior. Two areas that are known to be important for this are the mediodorsal thalamus and its primary projection target, the prefrontal cortex. However, how they interact to optimize working memory, remains elusive. By exploring this circuitry, I hope to gain a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying this process, and identify therapeutic targets for diseases that involve working memory disruption, such as schizophrenia.