2018: Dalisa Kendricks

Auburn University 

In 2016 Dalisa Kendricks decided to pursue her doctoral degree under the supervision of Dr. M. Christopher Newland in Auburn University’s cognitive and behavioral sciences program. Dalisa is in her second year and recently received an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. She is interested in understanding the long-term impacts exposure to drugs or neurotoxicants early in development have on behaviors associated with neurodevelopmental disorders (e.g., attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder [ADHD]). Her study seeks to determine how chronic exposure to methylmercury (MeHg)—a known neurotoxicant—during the sensitive adolescent period alters sustained attention in adulthood. A potential link between MeHg exposure during gestation and early childhood and inattentive-type ADHD has been shown in human populations but has not been explored in experimental models that allow us to isolate the roles of methylmercury exposure and age of exposure. She is using an operant signal detection task modified from Bushnell, Oshiro, and Padnos (1997) for use in a mouse model. She will compare performance in this sustained attention task between exposed male and female mice and healthy, un-exposed, sex-matched controls. To model the role of therapeutic stimulant exposure during adolescence, some subjects will also be exposed to known drug treatments for ADHD, desipramine or d-Amphetamine, in order to determine potential modulating effects of these treatments on MeHg deficits. She believes the outcomes of this study will provide greater understanding of the normal development of behaviors requiring sustained attention and how these behaviors are altered due to disruptions in normal development, as well as address potential causes, and treatments, of such disruptions.


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