A Trip to National Brain Research Center

The department of psychology undertook an educational-exploratory trip (as it is for most of us who haven’t been acquainted with neuroscience) to the National Brain research center, Manesar (NBRC). NBRC is undertaking lots of researches simultaneously from computational neuroscience to genetics to molecular biology. Not only do they cover various parts of biological sciences but also studying of various psychology concepts like learning, memory, cognition, genetic causes for various behavioural disorders if we want to use that word.

The NBRC has a 3 tesla fMRI machine to study various subjects’ neurotransmitter flow. This neuroimaging makes use of the technique of spectroscopy which is a non-invasive technique thus causing less damage to nearby areas of the brain. Molecular neuroscience uses animal behaviour as its subject of study. In one of the researches in the molecular neuroscience labs, the researchers are looking at the behaviour of crows in terms of planning and execution and making analogies for the same in human behaviour. Similarly in Zebrafinches one of the not so common birds seen in New Delhi, the researchers are studying how different Zebrafinches have varied patterns of songs to catch the attention of potential mates. An interesting piece of information was how these zebrafinches are more likely to mate with other zebrafinches which have a song pattern similar to that of their parent!!

In the genetic labs, the current researches focused on how to find out traces for genes of learning and communication disorders like dyslexia and autism spectrum. This also explores how such ‘culprit’ genes get transmitted over various generations.

Other areas of study were memory and learning in which the researchers discussed how memory is formed biologically or how a change takes place at a molecular level when we learn something new. They described how various proteins get multiplied and coded into transcripts to form memories about various events, people and places one encounters or to remember a new date from history!

Students also found fascinating, how the researchers were focusing toward building a mathematical model through the method of computational neuroscience on studying degenerative disorders and conducting a validation study on the same.

Other labs were involved in studying stem cell growth in stroke patients, Japanese encephalitic virus and the India Chandipura virus which developed in Maharashtra, studies on virology (the AIDS virus).

A student researcher was introduced to the department and her research on how one structures their behaviour when they talk to different people i.e. from friends to complete strangers.

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