My name is Samantha Brosso, and I am a senior from Charlotte, North Carolina majoring in Psychology and minoring in Neuroscience. Throughout my undergraduate career here at UNC, I have developed a particular interest in the neurobiology of behavior, as well as how neuropsychiatric disorders can manifest in the brain. I am also extremely interested in utilizing neuroimaging and electrophysiological methods, such as fMRI and EEG, to explore various neural circuits and how their breakdown can contribute to the development of schizophrenia, autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, PTSD, and mood disorders. In addition to exploring the functional connectivity of various neural circuits, I am fascinated by how the development and regulation of the stress response system can contribute to the onset of neuropsychiatric disorders, as well as the development of different life histories.
This past semester, I have had the extraordinary opportunity to dive into the field of Neuroscience as a Karen M. Gil Intern at the UNC Neurocognition and Imaging Research Lab (NIRL), in the department of Psychiatry. The NIRL is a cutting-edge lab that conducts translational research on neural circuits that support attention and information selection, and explores how these neural circuits breakdown and contribute to the development of psychosis and other neuropsychiatric conditions. In order to examine the functional anatomy of these neural circuits, the NIRL incorporates multimodal neuroimaging techniques, such as fMRI and EEG.
During my internship, I have had the pleasure of working under my mentor, Dr. Ayse Belger, who is a cognitive neuroscientist and biological psychologist. I had the amazing opportunity to receive hands-on training in electrophysiological methods and applications, including theory, capping, signal acquisition, signal pre-processing, and signal analysis. I have mainly assisted with the project, COGNIT, which examines how the biological mechanisms associated with impaired working memory capacity and atypical arousal/stress-regulation affect the severity of cognitive disorganization in adolescents who are at high risk for developing psychosis. In addition to my hands-on training in the EEG lab, I have developed a deeper understanding of neural circuits and cognitive operations involved in executive function, decision-making, and emotion regulation, as well as a better understanding of the clinical symptomatology and neurobiological models of schizophrenia.
I am so thankful for this incredible opportunity, as it has given me the experience and inspiration that I need to continue my exploration of the neural underpinnings of behavior, and to eventually pursue a PhD in Neuropsychology. I am also grateful for Dr. Buzinski, for his guidance and encouragement, as this program has not only given me critical professional skills I need to pursue a career in Psychology, but it has also given me confidence in my abilities and future. I am excited and ready for the next chapter of my life after graduation!