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The Behavioral Neuroscience Lab Manual

RESOURCE HANDBOOKFORTHE BEHAVIORAL NEUROSCIENCE LAB

DEPARTMENT OF PSYCHOLOGYVIRGINIA TECH

 

 DAVID W. HARISSON, PH. D., DIRECTOR

 P. KELLY HARRISON, PH. D., UNDERGRAD LAB COORDINATOR

GRACE HERRICK, UNDERGRADUATE SUPERVISOR

CAITLYN VAN WICKLIN, UNDERGRADUATE SUPERVISOR

KYLE WOISARD, UNDERGRADUATE SUPERVISOR

WAYNE STAFFORD, UNDERGRADUATE SUPERVISOR



 
Office Phone: 540.231.7001 Dr. Kelly Harrison: kellyh07@vt.edu

Grace Herrick: graceh1@vt.edu

Caitlyn Van Wicklen: caitv95@vt.edu

Kyle Woisard: kylew28@vt.edu

Wayne Stafford: wayne85@vt.edu
 

Introduction

  Welcome to the Behavioral Neuroscience Lab! This lab seeks to attract highly motivated, intelligent, and professional students with an interest in the neurosciences. Our research seeks to establish brain-behavior relationships through the use of neuropsychological and psychophysiological methods such as quantitative electroencephalography (QEEG), electro-oculography (EOG), electromyography (EMG), and other behavioral measures.
  This handbook is an overview of the Behavioral Neuroscience lab experience. All persons participating in this lab are expected to be familiar with the contents of this handbook. Please direct any questions regarding the contents of this handbook or its policies to one of the Center Coordinators. 
After reading this handbook, if you are interested in making a difference with the behavioral neurosciences, please apply to the Behavioral Neurosciences lab in the Department of Psychology. 

 

RESEARCH: Theoretical Offerings from our Laboratory

 

Our "Capacity Theory"

      Science clearly favors the role of the frontal lobe, within each cerebral hemisphere, as one of regulatory control over the regions in the back of the brain where sensory information is processed and comprehended.  This leaves open the ready interpretation of angry outbursts and/or panic-like states as resultant from inadequate regulatory control by the right frontal region, which was expressed in “capacity theory” as follows (Carmona, Holland, & Harrison, 2009; Williamson & Harrison, 2003; Foster, Drago, Ferguson, & Harrison, 2008; Mitchell & Harrison, 2010; see also Klineburger & Harrison, 2013).  Again by inference from analogy, a muscle once stretched, with a corresponding resistance to stretch through heightened metabolic activation, may eventually reach an intolerable level beyond the capacity of the tissue to resist the stressor demands placed upon it.  With every effort mounted to throw the resources of this muscle against the stressor, alas the capacity to challenge may be exceeded.  In such a state of stress one may see an abruptly diminished oppositional response with an immediate release of tone or regulatory control.  In the case of the right frontal lobe’s regulatory control over negative emotional dynamics, the response may now appear unexpectedly robust or reactively labile and unbridled.  Such events might be recorded in the clinical research setting with panic attack and with rage, for example (Foster & Harrison, 2002a; however, see Feinstein, Buzza, Hurlemann, Follmer, Dahdaleh, Coryell, Welsh, Tranel, & Wemmie, 2013); with emotional release or “chills” on exposure to an especially provocative musical piece (Klineburger & Harrison, 2013), and within the language systems with the onset of expressive speech deficits or stuttering (Foster & Harrison, 2001).
     Clocking mechanisms have been successfully manipulated even as a function of the concurrent performance on standardized neuropsychological testing involving designs or figural fluency in contrast to verbal fluency tasking.  Initially, the predictions involved a test of functional capacity theory (see Klineburger & Harrison, 2013) where the dual task demands over the left or the right frontal region would reduce the regulatory control over the time based estimate.  Thus, Kate Holland was able to accelerate the time base with the concurrent performance of the figural fluency test and, to decelerate the time base with the concurrent performance of the verbal fluency test (Holland, Carmona, Cox, Belcher, Wolfe, & Harrison, 2007; see also Holland, Carmona, Scott, Hardin, & Harrison, 2010).  These diametrically opposite effects on time estimation or temporal processing are reminiscent of the diametrically opposite effects recorded in heart rate, systolic blood pressure, and skin conductance as a function of left or of right frontal task demands.  Specifically, verbal fluency demands, positive affective learning, and happy facial expressions have lowered these indices of sympathetic drive, whereas figural fluency, negative affective learning, and angry facial expressions have increased these measures (Herridge, Harrison, Mollet, Shenal, 2004; Mollet & Harrison, 2007a, b; Williamson & Harrison, 2003; Holland, Carmona, & Harrison, 2011).
     Life does not require the approval of an institutional review board or human subjects committee.  Naturally occurring events, including the loss of a loved one or catastrophic events may easily exceed the metabolic capacity of these brain regions and possibly result in profound and unbridled anger, rage, fear or sadness.  If an analogy can be made between these brain systems and muscle systems, then we might easily see that resistance or regulatory efforts in the form of activation, as in the valence theory, are useful up to a point or level of resistance.  After that level is exceeded, the metabolic or electrical activation should be acutely and robustly diminished as in the point at which the muscle is about to tear from our bones from limb exertion.  This acute loss of regulatory control may have survival value as the suppression of these emotions is thrown to the wind and where we our desperate in our struggle against these events.  These are some of the derivations of capacity theory (e.g., Carmona, Holland, & Harrison, 2009; Mitchell & Harrison, 2010; Williamson & Harrison, 2003; Holland, Carmona, & Harrison, 2011; Walters & Harrison, 2013a; see also Collins & Koechlin, 2012; Klineburger & Harrison, 2013).
     The regulatory control over both anger and fear may be a function of the dynamic capacity of the right frontal region to concurrently process negative affective stress challenge, while maintaining control over sympathetic tone to convey a stable state in our facial expressions; social interactions; cardiovascular dynamics; and in our glucose and cholesterol levels.  But, anger and aggressive interactions require not only the “fuel for the fire” but also substantial oxygen saturation for cellular performance and metabolic processes.  With inadequate oxygen saturation and with incremental carbon dioxide levels, the regulatory demands are incremental and eventually pose an immediate threat to survival activating panic symptoms and efforts to withdraw or escape the setting, and at all cost.  Elevated carbon dioxide levels have been reported with panic (Biber & Alkln, 1999; see also Homnick, 2012) and incremental carbon dioxide levels may precipitate the panic attack (Maddock, 2010; see also Esquivel, Schruers, Maddock, Colasanti, & Griez, 2010).  If this argument is maintained through research endeavors (see Hu & Harrison, 2013a) then treatment of panic might include increased oxygen saturation, whereas the treatment of anger or rage may include elevation of glucose or insulin support for perfusion of the cells as with hypoglycemic or hyperglycemic states (Walters & Harrison, 2013a; 2013b).  These relationships are interrelated where high levels of oxygen saturation deplete carbon dioxide saturation levels and potentially alter cognition and emotional status (e.g., Meuret, Seidel, Rosenfield, Hofmann, & Rosenfield, 2012; Meuret, Rosenfield, Seidel, Bhaskara, & Hofmann, 2010).
     The medial prefrontal region effects regulatory control over visceral efferents, including the hypothalamic regions (Öngür & Price, 2000).  It is reasonable to predict that the regions within the right hemisphere activate to threatening stimuli and to those events requiring aggressive or predatory behaviors.  The need for food and the activation of sympathetic responses to promote successful food gathering may be relevant here.  In contrast, the left brain regions appear specialized for pleasant socialization, the consumption and digestion of food (e.g., Holland, Smith, Newton, Hinson, Obi-Johnson, Carmona, & Harrison, 2011), and quiescent states.  From these existing lines of evidence, one might predict the right frontal mediation of food consumption, where diminished capacity would lead to ballistic, poorly regulated consumption behaviors and perseverative eating well beyond the point of satiety in that setting.  But, we have not yet conducted this research in my laboratory.  David Cox and Kate Holland have provided initial confirmation of the digestive and quiescent processes after food consumption with evidence of left frontal lobe stress and activation using quantitative electroencephalography (Cox, Holland, Carmona, Golkow, Valentino, & Harrison, 2008; Holland, Newton, Smith, Hinson, Carmona, Cox, & Harrison, 2011), neuropsychological test performance (verbal fluency) and cardiovascular measures (Holland, Carmona, Smith, Catoe, & Hardin, 2011; Holland et al., 2011; Holland, Smith, Newton, Hinson, Obi-Johnson, Carmona, & Harrison, 2011; Holland, Newton, Bunting, Coe, Carmona, & Harrison, 2012).
Our “Quadrant Theory” 
     A simplified accounting of this has been expressed in “quadrant theory” (Shenal, Harrison, & Demaree, 2003; Foster, Drago, Ferguson, & Harrison, 2008; Foster, Drago, Webster, Harrison, Crucian, & Heilman, 2008), where inhibition runs not only across the cerebral hemispheres via the corpus callosum but also from the anterior to the posterior regions of each brain via the longitudinal tracts.  Denny-Brown (1956) proposed a reciprocally balanced relationship between the frontal lobes and the posterior regions of the brain that is characterized by mutual inhibition.  The dorsal pathways provide associative strength between visual and somatosensory analysis and the ventral pathway provides associative strength between visual and auditory analysis.  Regulatory control or inhibition over these associations arises from the frontal lobes and specifically over affective associations or kindling responses at the amygdaloid bodies, via the uncinate tracts.
     Hyperaroused states are more common with deactivation or lesion of the right prefrontal and mesial prefrontal regions as a result of diminished regulatory control over the reticular formation via the descending or corticofugal projections and the concurrent decrease in regulatory control over the right posterior brain regions via the longitudinal tract (see quadrant theory: Foster, Drago, Ferguson, & Harrison, 2008; Shenal, Harrison, & Demaree, 2003; Carmona, Holland, & Harrison, 2009).  Of course, extension of this theoretical perspective with deactivation of the right frontal region would release a relative activation in the homologous left frontal region(s).  Even patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease may differ with onset of symptoms at the left or at the right hemibody and as a function of disease duration.  Paul Foster and colleagues (Foster, Drago, Mendez, Witt, Crucian, & Heilman, 2013), for example, found increased energy levels as a function of disease duration in those Parkinson’s patients with left hemibody onset of symptoms.
     Philip Klineburger (Klineburger & Harrison, 2013) aptly notes in this regard, that the system must be efficient in its metabolic reallocation or energy utilization.  Philip argues that increased metabolic activity in one region of the brain should precipitate decrements in metabolic activity in the oppositional brain regions.  Through this argument, the capacity theory is now integrated with the assumptions of quadrant theory with activation dynamics yielding far field effects on multiple brain regions.  From this perspective, any efforts at strict localization of function, again, must be qualified by the demands of the equipotentialist and where the imprint of experience or expression is broad based in its effect on seemingly disparate brain systems.  Moreover, Luria (1980) and Hughlings Jackson (1874) would add the vertical dimension within these functional neural systems with the three basic functional units and with hierarchical analysis and processing, respectively.  It would appear reasonable that other permutations exist where activation of one region of an oppositional neural system might elicit reciprocal activation of the region opposed to it, perhaps.
     If the effect of lesion or damage of one frontal lobe is to disinhibit or “release” the other frontal lobe, then a release of the left frontal lobe may energize the person with freedom from the depth of appreciation of their deficits, whereas release of the right frontal lobe may yield a slow and cautious individual with somatic complaints, self depreciating concerns or the deep appreciation of what ails them.  The patient with damage to the deep structures of the left frontal lobe might state this in their own language as follows:  “My get up and go, got up and went!”  Well intentioned family members and therapists might find themselves describing this person with attributions that she/he “won’t even try.”  But, this inertia is specifically characterized by behavioral slowing and difficulty in response initiation.  This syndrome corresponds with the amotivational and apathetic features (see Scott & Schoenberg, 2011; see also Grossman, 2002) described elsewhere in these writings.  Quadrant theory also predicts that right frontal deactivation would release right parietotemporal regions with predictable increases in arousal level (e.g., Heilman, Schwartz, & Watson, 1978; Heilman, & Valenstein, 1979; see also Heilman, Watson, & Valenstein, 2012); increased activation into extrapersonal space (e.g., hyperkinesis); increased sympathetic drive; and external attributions rather than self awareness, per se.
     Building from the evidence produced by Harmon-Jones and Allen (1998) regarding the utility of resting anterior cortical activation to predict trait anger, researchers have shown that resting relative activation of the left anterior region corresponds with measures of BAS and trait anger (Hewig et al., 2004).  However, it has been proposed that there is a relationship between BAS and positive affect, causing some researchers to question whether the observed patterns of anterior cortical activation are due to the BAS system or positive affect (Carver & White, 1994).  Moreover, in the demonstrable case of relatively increased left frontal activity one may appreciate the inference for reduced relative right frontal activity, where diminished regulatory control over negative emotion (e.g., Agustín-Pavón, Braesicke, Shiba, Santangelo, Mikheenko, Cockroft, Asma, Clarke, Man, & Roberts, 2012), anger (e.g., Fulwiler, King, & Zhang, 2012), and sympathetic control (Demakis, Herridge, & Harrison, 1994; Herridge, Harrison, & Demaree, 1997; Carmona, Holland, & Stratton, 2008) are fundamental features.  Thus, part of the final analysis may relate to the loss of regulatory control over anger with deactivation of the right frontal/orbitofrontal region or relative activation of the left frontal region or both.  Interestingly, quadrant theory extends beyond these two areas with dynamic activation across the cerebral quadrants and raises the specter for indirect diagonal relationships between the left frontal and right posterior quadrants and the right frontal and left posterior quadrants (Foster, Drago, Ferguson, & Harrison, 2008; Shenal & Harrison, & Demaree, 2003).
     Gina Mitchell (Mollet & Harrison, 2006) appreciated the intimate relationship between emotional processing systems and pain processing systems in her application of quadrant theory to these processes.  Ultimately, Gina would integrate these views within the capacity theory also appreciating the sensory perceptual analyzers within the posterior brain and the regulatory control over these areas imposed by the frontal lobe (Mitchell & Harrison, 2010; see also Meerwijk, Ford, & Weiss, 2012).  The layperson and neuroscientist alike clearly appreciate the redundancy of chronic pain and depression (see Meerwijk, Ford, & Weiss, 2012).  The intimate relationship between acute pain and anger or fear is appreciated by all those sharing the human experience.  Pain may release reflexive responses with sympathetic nervous system activation, pupil dilatation, incremental blood pressure and heart rate, and possibly aggressive or defensive behaviors.  The degree of intimacy among these functions is equivalent to, or beyond that of, the now commonsense level acknowledgement of the relationship between logical, linguistic speech and the left brain.  Yet, the zeitgeist is not unlike that experienced at the time that Broca made his, now famous, accolade stating that “we speak with the left brain.”


“Balance Theory”

 
     Each of these brains exists, at once collectively, as part of the overall functional entity we identify as self.  Yet, they are clearly, at times, oppositional and at odds in the battle for a dominant position over the processing, comprehension, and perception of our world and ultimately in the regulation of our responsive nature or expression, which others may use too for their own attributions and views towards us.  This oppositional nature was apparent to early scientist-clinicians and our knowledge of this relationship ultimately evolved toward basic theoretical positions on the functional interactions between the cerebral hemispheres.  This was expressed in various accounts of the cerebral “balance theory,” where the vastly different processing styles and emotional tendencies of each brain were ultimately communicated across the corpus callosum with inhibition or down regulation of the homologous region of the adjacent brain.  The logical, rationale, verbal, linguistic analysis of the left brain might be inadequate to counter the processing bias of its neighbor residing at the other side of the skull.  This oppositional neighbor residing at the right side of our skull is more intently perceptive of threat or spatial arrays conveying altered meaning to that conveyed in logic.  A practical example is evident in the demonstration that patients with left sided cerebral vascular accidents or strokes and with diminution of their speech language systems are improved in their detection or analysis of lying or dissimilation.  Patients with left cerebral lesions to Wernicke’s area were now more capable in the detection of lying from others (Etcoff, Ekman, Magee & Frank, 2000).
     Intimate to the balance theory is the appreciation of changing metabolic states or activation and inactivation of specific functional neural units, which may at one time yield mild left frontal stress, for example, with social approach and linguistic speech demands and perhaps even with some associated happiness and enjoyment of the communicative person with whom we have interacted.  The inhibition may be of homologous regions of the brain more prone to socially avoidant behavior, negative reflection on past social events, and negative emotional expressions, including anger, sadness, or social apprehension (fear).  One might easily imagine stressors or cerebral activation conditions wherein the right hemisphere regions prone to the oppositional tendency of social avoidance, negative views towards others, and negative affective expressions would inhibit brain systems more prone to desire and to intend to positive social interactions, linguistic speech, and positive affect.
     Thus, the interesting thing about these two oppositional brains attempting to achieve balance at any one point in time or another is that the balance is necessarily dynamic rather than static.  In a normal brain, we may respond to our environmental stressors through metabolic activation of systems specialized to process that particular stressor.  But, metabolic activation may be costly wherein we achieve heightened efficiency through a concurrent decrement in metabolism of the oppositional brain system.  An analogy here might be of two antagonistic muscles charged with moving the skeleton in opposite directions (e.g., extending or flexing an arm).  Incremental stress on the flexor muscle will result in increased metabolic rate to resist the stretch on that muscle concurrent with inhibition of the extensor muscle.  A simplified accounting of this has been expressed in “quadrant theory” (Shenal, Harrison, & Demaree, 2003; Foster, Drago, Ferguson, & Harrison, 2008; Foster, Drago, Webster, Harrison, Crucian, & Heilman, 2008), where inhibition runs not only across the cerebral hemispheres via the corpus callosum but also from the anterior to the posterior regions of each brain via the longitudinal tracts.  Denny-Brown (1956) proposed a reciprocally balanced relationship between the frontal lobes and the posterior regions of the brain that is characterized by mutual inhibition.  The dorsal pathways provide associative strength between visual and somatosensory analysis and the ventral pathway provides associative strength between visual and auditory analysis.  Regulatory control or inhibition over these associations arises from the frontal lobes and specifically over affective associations or kindling responses at the amygdaloid bodies, via the uncinate tracts.
                                                                                                                                          D.W.H.
Current Research Interests

 
Sex Differences in Laterality: Much of the research on emotion conducted in the lab has focused on laterality differences. Current research suggests that women are less lateralized in function across behavioral tasks and emotions. It is our goal to replicate past lab research looking at both males and females across a variety of brain locations and emotional valences to see if significant differences exist here as well.


Boredom: Boredom has been researched largely from a cognitive perspective but little attention has been paid to the underlying neurological correlates. We are interested in looking at patterns of EEG activation under different conditions of boredom to determine if there are networks that are common to all forms of boredom or if there are distinctly different types of boredom at the neurological level. This research has implications for attention deficit disorders as well as vigilance performance.

Neurological Underpinnings of ACT and CBT: Since language is largely lateralized to the left hemisphere yet fear, anger, and sadness are largely lateralized to the right hemisphere, we are interested in seeing if either traditional CBT or the metaphors used in ACT access the right hemisphere.

 

The Purpose of the Lab


The Behavioral Neuroscience Lab was made available to undergraduates primarily as a venue for teaching research methods. Unlike other labs, our lab actually trains our members on the equipment we use, making them eligible for certification in several technical positions. We are dedicated to providing the undergraduate the entire lab experience, not just secretarial support. That being said, the research priorities of the lab will be determined by the research needs of our graduate students, particularly for their theses and dissertations. If lab equipment is being underutilized or becomes available, we encourage our students to develop and instrument their own research projects, staying within the bounds of the lab’s interests.

 

Benefits

Undergraduate students from the BNL are often very successful at gaining admission to competitive graduate programs and receiving research assistantships.  Both graduate students and project leaders are invaluable resources for information regarding graduate school and the application process.  Throughout the semester, multiple workshops and presentations are offered to assist undergraduates in preparing for graduate school.

  Authorships and co-authorships can become available to dedicated undergraduate students.  Typically, authorships/co-authorships of a research report take the form of a conference presentation.  However, the opportunity to co-author journal articles or book chapters may also become available to those most dedicated to a successful research project.  
  The BNL can be one of the best resources for undergraduates seeking to gain admission to graduate schools in psychology and related fields which share a strong emphasis on research.  But remember, you will only gain as much from any opportunity as you are willing to put into it.  Your performance can help make the BNL a true win-win system for all participants.

Information About University Credit

Students have the opportunity to sign up for a Field Study, Independent Study, or Undergraduate Research before the force/add date.  If you plan to take either Independent Study or Undergraduate Research, you must talk to a project leader or one of the Center Coordinators.Undergraduates can receive university credit in one of three ways:

  • 1) Field Study (PSYC 2964 and 4964): Undergraduates beginning their first semester with the BNL and who wish to receive university credit must sign up for Field Study.  Field Study allows students to receive hands-on instruction in conducting research which could evolve to an independent study and/or undergraduate research in subsequent semesters.  Thus, a field study student becomes informed about the scientific method.  Field Study is a Pass/Fail course and can be taken for two credits.  Therefore, for two credits you need a minimum of six hours per week.
  • 2) Undergraduate Research (PSCY 2994 and 4994): After students have completed one semester of Field Study, they are eligible to enroll for Undergraduate Research. Students enrolled for Undergraduate Research design and implement their own research project under the leadership of a graduate student and/or Dr. Harrison.  They document these research activities in an empirical paper which will likely be the basis of a professional presentation (i.e., paper or poster) at a regional and/or national conference.  All other requirements are the same as Independent Study, as described next.
  • 3) Independent Study (PSYC 2974 and 4974): After students have worked with BNL for one semester, they are eligible to enroll for Independent Study.  Students taking Independent Study are required to:a) select a topic and write a comprehensive review of the literature related to that topic (for submission to Dr. Harrison), orb) write a theoretical paper (with corresponding literature review) for submission to Dr. Harrison.

  All research projects must be approved by Dr. Harrison at the beginning of the semester before the work can be undertaken. Students taking an Independent Study are required to continue some of the duties performed by Field Study students (i.e., field data collection, data entry, data verification, etc.).  Independent Study must be taken A-F and can be taken for three credits. 

University Policies

  Students must have a GPA of 2.5 or better to maintain membership in the lab. It is our policy that lab experience should add to, but not detract from, your overall college performance. The College of Science allows only 10% of total Virginia Tech credits (12 credits) to be taken Pass/Fail if they are to be applied towards graduation.  This includes all pass/fail hours (except transfer hours), not just those in psychology.  Any credits beyond 12 will not count toward graduation. Only eight credits of Undergraduate Research and/or Independent Study can be applied toward graduation.  The Dean of the College of Science may provide a waiver that allows students to take a larger number of credits in these two classes. Honors Independent Study and Honors Undergraduate Research can be arranged for those students enrolled in the University Honors Program.


Educational Core


The Educational Core of BNL is designed to provide undergraduates with opportunities to learn more about the theories, models, and research methods used in applied psychological-science research.  It is also designed to ensure students will become involved in all aspects of the research process.  Completion of the Educational Core involves several components; regardless of whether you are taking two or 3 hours of academic class

  • Completion of Human Subjects Training (both NIH and VT).
  • Completion of lab orientation and training
  • Attendance at weekly BNL meetings (i.e, Tuesdays from 4:00 – 5:30 p.m.)
  • A minimum of 75* total hours of data collection
  • A minimum of 30* total hours of meeting/proposal development
  • Training to  achieve the total hours required for your needed total of 84/126 hours

Grading Criteria


             Freshmen will not be allowed to participate in the lab for course credit, However to be considered eligible for participation for credit during your sophomore year, we expect you to attend all BNL meetings on a volunteer basis and to spend at least two hours per week in the lab training and assisting in running subjects. This will make you eligible for field study hours during your sophomore year.
Sophomores, juniors, and seniors are required to contribute a minimum of three hours per week for every one credit hour you are earning.  Thus, students registered for two or three credit hours must contribute six hours or nine hours a week, respectively, for 14 weeks (84 hrs. or 126 hrs. per semester, respectively).  Forms are provided to keep track of your hours of contribution/participation.
Although this seems like a lot of work, BNL hours can be earned with time spent:

  • Taking courses on-line or in-class such as NIH IRB training or SAS and MATLAB.
  • Attending neuroscience colloquia.
  • Training on the BIOPAC and QEEG equipment.
  • Weekly meetings with the lab at large and with your immediate project supervisor.
  • Reading selected articles to familiarize yourself better with the field.

Center Policies



All students enrolled for college credit and hourly-wage personnel working in the  BNL are bound by the following policies:

  1. All students are expected to abide by the rules outlined in the “University Honor Code.”  Any violation of such will be dealt with per University enforcement regulations for the “University Honor Code.”
  2. All persons working in the BNL are expected to perform their assigned tasks to the best of their ability.  However, at no time is an individual expected to work on a task s/he is not qualified to perform without first receiving adequate training and preparation, as well as ongoing assistance from relevant project leaders.
  3. The primary mission of the BNL is to conduct neuroscience research that involves IRB submission and approval, equipment training, data collection, data entry and analysis, and documentation of research protocols.  Therefore, our highest priority is the accurate and reliable collection and analysis of empirical data.  Because we are using human subjects as participants, we have very stringent guidelines covering their treatment and the protection of their privacy. Protocol procedures related to the collection and handling of data are to be followed at all times, without exception.  Without explicit permission of the project supervisor, raw data sheets shall not leave the BNL once the data have been collected and the data sheets have been filed.  In addition, persons working in the BNL are expected to return the data sheets and complete the appropriate data logs within 24 hours from the time the data are collected.
  4. Persons scheduled to collect data are responsible for their specific data-collection sessions. When participants cannot collect data during their scheduled times, they (not the leaders) are responsible for finding a substitute, and notifying the project supervisor or a Center Coordinator of the change.  Missed data collection sessions without finding a relevant substitute will result in the deduction of equivalent hours missed. 
  5. All persons are expected to attend the Tuesday afternoon meeting, every week, from 4:00-5:30 p.m. If a participant does not attend this meeting (and does not provide a legitimate excuse prior to the meeting), a one-hour deduction will be given.
  6. While doing data entry, it is important to note that only the Project Leader can access a completed data set. When working with a data set, persons will only work on their section and won’t attempt to edit an entire data set.
  7. The computers and printers in the BNL are for BNL use only.  Personal use of the computers and the printer is not allowed.
  8. All students are expected to read any research articles/literature given to them and discuss with lab mates at the weekly meeting as a way to develop presentation and comprehension skills

Key Points

  • All students are expected to abide by the rules outlined in the “University Honor Code.”
  • Requirements for completion (two credit hours):
  • *84 total hours for 2 credits, 126 hours for 3 credits
  • *50 hours of in-lab time (training, running participants, entering data, etc.)
  • *25 hours of meeting time
  • *Completion of Human Subjects Training
  • *5 - 10 hours of proposal development and/or write-up
  •  All students must be trained to collect data for a specific project before they can sign up for a data-collection shift.
  •  If unable to attend a data-collection shift, it’s your responsibility to have it covered.
  •  All students are expected to work diligently to the best of their ability.All leaders are here to help you, so do not hesitate to  ask questions or ask for support.
All leaders are here to help you, so do not hesitate to ask questions or ask for support.
The BNL leaders love to hear feedback (supportive and corrective, good and bad) and we have multiple ways for you to offer anonymous feedback.  No one can improve without feedback, and our mission is to continuously improve.



*Hours by category are subject to change throughout the semester, as a function of system factors, but the total number (i.e. 84 for two credits) will not change.