Scientific News 2023

October 2023

Alexa Veenema received a MSU ISTB Collaborative Research Grant ($25,000) to establish a collaboration with Co-PI Geoffroy Laumet, neuroimmunologist in the Department of Physiology at MSU, to determine whether social play exposure has beneficial effects on inflammatory pain.

June 2023

Alexa Veenema presented the latest research from the lab at the annual meeting of the Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology (SBN) in Tours, France, from June 26-29, 2023.

Jessica Lee presented her research at the annual meeting of the International Behavioral Neuroscience Society (IBNS) in Niagara Falls, Canada, from June 25-30, 2023

Kira Becker, Morgen Henry, Bella Orsucci, and Alex Shemke presented their research at the annual meeting of the Michigan Chapter Society for Neuroscience at MSU in East Lansing, USA on June 9, 2023 and Kira, Morgen, and Bella won a poster award!

May 2023

UG Alex Shemke received a MSU CSS Provost Undergraduate Research Initiative Award to work in the lab over the summer on a project to determine the role of oxytocin receptor-expressing neurons in the regulation of social play behavior in juvenile male and female rats

GS Jessica Lee and GS Samantha Bowden will present their work at the “Play and the Evolution of Creative Societies” Workshop in Erice, Sicily from May 14-18, 2023.

April 2023

UG Kira Becker and lab technician Bella Orsucci won first prize for their joined poster presentation in the category Neuroscience at the MSU University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum (UURAF). This was their first poster presentation ever! Congratulations!

PI Alexa Veenema gave a talk on the latest research from the lab on the involvement of oxytocin and vasopressin in the neural circuitry of social play at the Neuropeptide Signaling: Bridging Cell Biology, Neurophysiology, and Behavior at the Janelia Research Campus in Ashburn, VA.

March 2023

GS Jessica Lee gave a talk about her research at the Ana G. Mendez University, Carolina, Puerto Rico as part of Neuroscience Day organized by UG Daniela Anderson, BPNP student in the lab.

PD Katie Yoest and lab members published a paper in the journal Hormones & Behavior on the “Development of social recognition ability in female rats: Effect of pubertal ovarian hormones“. In this paper, Katie shows that juvenile female rats do not show adult rat-typical patterns of social recognition in the social discrimination test while juvenile male rats do. This is an important observation because in addition to sex, age seems a variable taken into account when using behavioral tests originally developed for adult male rats. Katie further shows that juvenile female rats begin to show successful social discrimination at adolescence age and that this depends on pubertal ovarian hormones. However, estradiol given to pre-pubertally ovariectomized adult female rats does not restore social discrimination, suggesting a more complex involvement of multiple ovarian hormones in the adolescent onset of social discrimination in female rats. Notably, juvenile female rats showed social recognition in the habituation-dishabituation test, suggesting intact social recognition at this age. Overall, findings indicate to be aware that a widely used behavioral test might work differently when changing sex, age, and potentially other factors of the experimental organism.