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Student Research Explores Stimulated Neurons

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Haborfields High School senior Hannah Johnston recently presented her scientific research, titled “The Role of Basal Forebrain Cholinergic Neurons in Reward and Punishment Signaling,” to peers, mentors, professors and parents at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

Johnston was among a select group of 13 Long Island high school students to participate in the 2014-15 Partners for the Future program at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Each student in the program had the opportunity to work for approximately 10 hours a week with scientist mentors to investigate and conduct a research study.

Paired with postdoctoral fellow and scientist mentor Sachin Ranade, Johnston explored the role of a specific set of neurons in the brain in the way humans understand reward and punishment. For the experiment, Johnston and Ranade observed a mouse’s behavior as the specific set of neurons was stimulated.

Johnston will attend Harvard University this fall with plans to major in either neurobiology and behavior or public health.