Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
Dr. Cindy Bukach
The goal of this study was to examine right hemisphere specialization for faces at the neuronal level. Research has shown that facial recognition relies on the right anterior temporal lobe and involves integrating multiple features (Bukach, Gauthier, & Tarr, 2006). Evidence from rat studies confirms that the anterior temporal lobe is involved in integrating multiple object features (Eacott, Machin, & Gaffan, 2001). However, these studies did not examine differences between the brain’s right and left hemispheres. It was hypothesized that the right anterior temporal lobe is more important for feature integration. The current study aimed to develop a methodology for training rats on visual discrimination in such a way that we could test this hypothesis. Rats were trained to discriminate between faces that differ on only one feature (eyes or mouth) or on multiple features (eyes and mouth) using touch screen technology. Training was broken down into levels, and rats had to complete all levels of training with at least 80% correct responses at each level for the paradigm to be considered successful. Following development of a successful training paradigm, we plan to use immunohistochemistry techniques to examine laterality differences in neural activity. We expect to find that rats in the multiple feature group will show more neural activity in the right anterior temporal lobe than in the left. These results will confirm the importance of the right hemisphere in integrating multiple object features during face recognition and will provide the first evidence of this at the neuronal level.
Brunelli, Tiffany R., "Visual discrimination training for rats : developing a new methodology to explore laterality differences" (2009). Honors Theses. 678.