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DIY Science

Students conduct cutting-edge research in new neuroscience lab

 

Does sleep deprivation cause us to more readily believe information we know to be false? Do critical thinking skills correlate with higher education levels? What are the neuropsychological effects of strokes and tumors?

These are just a few of the big questions Hamline psychology students are exploring at the newly dedicated Wesley and Lorene Artz Cognitive Neuroscience Research Center at Hamline. Physics professor Jerry Artz, whose late mother and aunt had Alzheimer’s disease, donated $100,000 to establish the center in his parents’ honor with the hope that students will work toward understanding and curing Alzheimer’s.

The lab comes equipped with a 32-channel electroencephalogram (EEG) and a bio pack to measure electrodermal activity, heart rate, and breathing patterns. 

 “Students will be able to design their own experiments, come up with their own theories, and test them in a way that is completely unique in undergraduate research,” center director Erik Asp said. “The primary purpose of the lab, besides teaching, is doing top-level, cutting-edge research.” 

Already, students are using the lab for collaborative research projects alongside Asp, a neuroscience professor in the Psychology Department who has conducted research in areas of cognitive neuroscience pertaining to doubt, credulity, and effects of aging. 

 Asp is also working to form a partnership with the University of Minnesota to study the effects of brain trauma on patients. 

 “We hope to have patients that have undergone some sort of brain trauma, like a stroke or tumor resection, come in and do neuropsychological testing and EEG studies,” he said. If the partnership is a success, he added, “I don’t know of one other school that does lesion work where undergraduate students will have the same type of lesion patient access that they will have here.” 

 Plans to launch a neuroscience major are set for fall 2017.