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Leigh Botly

Leigh-From: Toronto, Ontario

Degrees: PhD

Role: Post-Doc

Joined: September 2010

Current Project: I am using touchscreen-equipped operant chambers to develop a cognitive bias paradigm for mice. Affective state can greatly influence how information is attended, interpreted, and remembered. This psychological phenomenon is known as cognitive bias. In the human cognitive literature, it has been shown that a negative connotation is more likely to be attributed to an ambiguous stimulus when one is in a negative versus positive mood.  We hypothesize that similar to what occurs in healthy human participants, mice subjected to negative mood induction will interpret ambiguous visual stimuli as more negative than control mice, reflective of a pessimistic tendency. Such a paradigm could then be used as a more cognitively-complex way to test depression in mice given that depressed human patients typically demonstrate pessimistic biases.

Claim to Fame: I am somewhat of a cat lady! I traveled all the way to Hamilton, Ontario to adopt an extra-toed cat with huge feet. Naturally, his name is Mitts.

Favourite Thing About Science: Training animals to perform cognitive tasks. Patience is an invaluable virtue when it comes to this aspect of behavioural neuroscience and it is tremendously rewarding when a mouse you have been training for months on a task reaches criterion performance.