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Rebecca Smausz

DPhil Candidate

Biography, Role & Research


I'm a recent University of Manchester BSc Neuroscience with Industrial experience graduate (2017-2021). I did my placement year at Boehringer Ingelheim Biberach, Germany, in Prof Bastian Hengerer's lab. I also worked as a research assistant at the University of Manchester in Prof Rasmus Petersen's lab before starting my current position (2021-2022).

Role & Research

I'm a DPhil in Experimental Psychology student in Prof Mark Walton's lab. My project is focused on investigating the role of the neuromodulators dopamine (DA) and serotonin (5HT) in flexible decision-making. Particularly, I'm using cutting-edge circuit analysis tools like optogenetics and fibre photometry to determine when, where and how DA and 5HT are released to shape adaptive decisions. While photometry allows for determining a potential correlation between DA and 5HT dynamics and decision-making variables like choice, value and reward, the power of optogenetics lies in allowing for the establishment of a direct causal link between these. Thus, I'm using these techniques simultaneously to probe how 5HT-DA interactions may shape the development of and engagement with adaptive decision-making policies. As imbalances in these neuromodulators underlie several psychiatric disorders, potential insights gained through our approach may prove valuable for developing improved treatments for these.