Monday 7 December 2015

Episode 12 - Brett Gibson

Brett Gibson is an associate professor of psychology at the University of New Hampshire.

Brett imagining a better year for Thomas Vanek
While he may live in Bruin territory he is a Minnesota Wild fan, and he received his BA in psychology from the University of Minnesota in 1991, followed by his MS from Bucknell 1995 and his PhD at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, in 1999.  (Brett also did a postdoc with my PhD supervisor, Sara Shettleworth and one with Ed Wasserman).

Brett is broadly interested in the evolution of behaviour and cognition in non-human animals and the neurobiological underpinnings of these systems. He has two primary lines of research. In the first line of work Brett and his students are investigating the behaviour and cognitive abilities of non-human animals. In particular, they are interested how a variety of animals represent and plan movements in space. Their work in animal cognition also has included research on a wider variety of cognitive abilities, such as numerical ability, inference, and memory in birds, including the Clark’s nutcracker (Nucifraga Columbiana). In the second line of research he has been collaborating with other researchers in the neurosciences to use electrophysiology to record from individual/populations of neurons as animals perform cognitive tasks. This line of work has included investigating the neural systems involved in representations of space, as well as how different part of the brain, like the prefrontal cortex and thalamus are involved in planning actions and movements.

We talked about what got Brett into the field in the first place, about working with people like Sara, Al and Ed, and about his lab's recent work on head direction cells in rats and on numerical cognition in Clark's nutcrackers.

Thanks again to Red Arms for letting me mash up their music in the closing theme. Buy their music now.

mp3 download

Thursday 3 December 2015

Episode 11 - Michael Brown

Mike, the pole box, and a rat
Michael Brown is a professor of psychology at Villanova University in Villanova, PA, which is just outside of the home of the evil Philadelphia Flyers.....

Mike got his BA in psychology and philosophy at the University of Michigan and then went on to UC Berkley where he got his PhD in psychology.

Mike's interests are in the general areas of comparative cognition and animal learning. He uses the results of behavioral experiments to make inferences about the systems controlling simple behavior and behavioral change. During the past decade, his efforts have been focused on spatial memory in rats and bees. Mike and his students  have studied rats in several laboratory procedures, including the radial-arm maze. They are interested in determining the nature of the representations and decision processes used in spatial tasks. Their bee research centers on working memory for spatial locations in honeybees and bumblebees. This work has been supported by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Science Foundation.

We talked about a bunch of stuff including what got Mike into the field, working with Al Riley, and Mike's work on same different learning in bees and social learning in rats.

Thanks again to Red Arms for letting me mash up their music in the closing theme. Buy their music now.

mp3 download