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‘Brain and Cognition’ publishes Wayne Medicine students’ summer research project in special issue

November 21, 2017

Pictured are Mathura Ravishankar, left, and Alexandra Morris.

The work of Wayne State University School of Medicine third-year students Mathura Ravishankar and Alexandra Morris will appear in a special compilation issue of the journal Brain and Cognition that delves into “New Directions in Resting State fMRI Applications.”

Ravishankar and Morris worked on the project the summer between their first and second year of medical school, funded partly by the Medical Student Summer Research Fund. They are the first and second authors, respectively, on “Cortical-hippocampal functional connectivity during covert consolidation sub-serves associative learning: Evidence for an active ‘rest’ state.

“We studied connectivity between different regions of the brain involved in learning and memory in a healthy group of individuals who completed a task where they were presented with different objects in 2-D space and then later asked to recall them. We observed cortical-hippocampal connectivity during periods of rest, suggesting the importance of this time period in potentiating memory processes,” Ravishankar said. “We were especially interested in this topic as medical students because we are constantly trying to learn and remember new information as fast as possible.”

Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences Vaibhav Diwadkar, Ph.D., is the senior author of the publication.

“Working with Dr. Diwadkar over the last year has been such an enriching opportunity. He truly cares about the success of his students,” Ravishankar said.

The duo won second place at the 2017 Medical Student Research Symposium for their oral presentation on the project.

“They conducted interesting functional connectivity analyses of fMRI data to show that brain networks at rest in fact appear to be covertly, yet actively consolidating memories that are being acquired during the task,” Dr. Diwadkar said. “This result is another interesting demonstration of the constructive role of the brain’s resting states from our group this year.”

Dr. Diwadkar also worked with them to submit two abstracts about the project to Organization for Human Brain Mapping, a conference held earlier this year in Vancouver.

“This was a great way to showcase our research and learn more about other neuroimaging research projects around the world,” Ravishankar said.

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