My day started with a tour of the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute, housed in the Life Sciences North building. The Brain Institute is a Neuroscience and Cognitive Science lab that primarily works with rats. My on-site advisor brought me around to peek into every lab. I was introduced to new studies and researchers from door to door. Each study being done in the building involves the rodents, so the most important room I saw was the one holding all of the rats. I walked into this red-lit room lined with cages on every wall. I peered into the cages, and to my surprise, the rats were albino! My advisor explained to me that rats are nocturnal, so in order to work with rats during the day, the room must be kept red because albino rats interpret red light as darkness. After all of the touring, I had to complete a series of online tests ranging from “Working with Rats in Research Settings” to “Reducing Pain and Distress in Laboratory Mice and Rats” to “Aseptic Surgery.” My day ended with meeting and interacting with the particular rats I will be using for my research.
I began my first day of research today. This involved getting the rats adjusted to the equipment and environment they will be around for the next few months. This part of the research is called Habituation. I monitored their behavior in this environment, examined and recorded their health, weighed them, and fed them.
Today was pretty similar to the day before, but I was also asked to assist another researcher doing a separate project. I really enjoy being able to not only do my specific lab project but also learn and help out other ones.
Before starting the next phases of my project past Habituation, I had to read a bunch of papers relating to similar research studies. I read this article and this other article. I also got to see a rat who had just undergone surgery because they surgically implanted chronic neural electrodes (hyperdrive) for recording single unit activity and electrocorticographic signals… cool but freaky!