Effects of early life experience on spatial cognition, neurogenesis and neurohormonal responses to stress
The stress response is a conserved trait of vertebrate physiology and is similar from fish to mammals. Animals modify their stress response within their defined genetic capacity based on information gained from a variety of sources. Animals are especially sensitive to such information during early development, thereby configuring the brain to respond in a particular way to stressors later in life. This project will investigate how the degree of complexity of the early rearing environments influence stress responsiveness and cognition and relate this to the level of neurogenesis. The work will include intervention experiments in order to understand the effects of the early environment, behavioural testing, physiological sample collection, sample preparation and analysis.
Project update 28th Feb 2020
My first few weeks in Norway have already been very exciting! As soon as I arrived, I jumped into the experimental work and things have been quite busy. I spent most of my time working at the farm to sample the first brains and dissect the hippocampus, and in the lab to sort and prepare the samples for further analyses of neurogenesis. I have also attended my first lab meeting and been introduced to other lab members.
Now that the first round of stress testing and sample collection is done, things will get quieter and I will have time to plan the next experiments, i.e. evaluating the spatial cognition of laying hens reared in cage or aviary. I have already started to read papers on the subject, and I am looking forward to designing the protocol of this new round of testing!