My name is Melissa Burroughs, and I am a junior from Charlotte, NC majoring in Psychology with a minor in Neuroscience. Through the Gil Internship, I am exploring my interests in research on the impacts of drug use. I am working under Dr. Charlotte Boettiger, an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, in her Cognition and Addiction Behavioral Neuroscience Lab (CABLab) on projects funded by the UNC Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies.
I first became interested in the complexities of drug use and addiction when I took a first-year seminar on the topic taught by Dr. Kathryn Reissner. We discussed how several different drugs of addiction affect the brain, and we examined the behavioral and neurobiological deficits associated with prolonged use. This introduction to the world of drug research was compelling, and Dr. Reissner’s guidance inspired me to get involved with research, and later, to tailor my research experiences towards research involving drugs of addiction.
Thanks to the Gil Internship program, I now have the opportunity to work on research examining the long-term behavioral deficits associated with binge drinking during adolescence. The CABLab is starting two new projects soon: a resting state fMRI study and a transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) study. Both of these projects will expand on previous findings suggesting that binge drinking during adolescence leads to long-lasting damage in habitual processing. I am excited to conduct research that will directly inform future research and treatment paradigms for people struggling with alcohol use.
Since joining the CABLab, I have attempted to learn all I can about the lab and the techniques employed. For example, I have read many academic articles to learn about the different types of stimulation so that I can understand why we have chosen to use tACS. I will soon have the opportunity to run participant sessions, so other lab members and I have been practicing marking and placing electrodes. I even had my brain stimulated last week! Experiencing brain stimulation helped me understand what participants will experience and taught me the importance of carefully measuring where electrodes should be placed. During all lab tasks, I have taken advantage of working closely with others in the lab and am asking questions about all I can. I have a unique opportunity to learn from more experienced lab members, and their guidance is sure to be transformative. I am confident that my experiences in the CABLab will prepare me for a future of neuroscience research, and I have only the Gil Internship Program to thank for providing me with this opportunity.