Everyone has a “NAC” (knack) or special skill or natural ability for something. Nonhuman animals also have unique behavioral signatures that have been selected for through environmental, ecological, and social pressures.
In the Neuroscience & Animal Cognition lab we study nonhuman animals to understand the evolutionary roots of behavior and determine the mechanisms by which particular cognitive and memory abilities operate. Because human and nonhuman NACs- such as the ability to encode and remember a new episode, often operate at similar basic neural level- we use rats as a model for normal and abnormal human brain functioning. Our aim is to determine the cognitive and neural mechanisms of particular memory and learning functions so that future biomedical treatments for patients suffering from memory dysfunctions can be better targeted.