Two Ossining High School seniors in the Science Research Program are finalists for the 2020 American Academy of Neurology and Child Neurology Society’s Neuroscience Research Prize.
Meagan Ryan and Bonnie Lin are among 10 finalists for the award. The organizations will announce four winners in January.
Meagan studied some of the changes that occur in the brain during long periods of withdrawal and relapse in cocaine addiction. She looked at the SWI/SNF remodeling complex – a group of proteins involved in gene expression and repairing damaged DNA – in mice with chronic cocaine addiction and long-term withdrawal. She learned that multiple proteins in the remodeling complex decreased after re-exposure to the drug, which suggests that they have a reduced function and involvement in the chromatin (chromosomal material) after a relapse.
“What we found is that a lot of these changes suggest that it may be involved in the changes in the brain related to addiction and specifically relapse,” she said.
“We can target these changes for potential treatments, which would prevent or help with addiction treatment because finding treatment for addiction, especially cocaine, is difficult,” she added.
Meagan plans to major in psychology in college. She would like to combine her interests in psychology and neuroscience for a career in criminal psychology.
For her project with the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bonnie evaluated data on auditory processing in children 6 to 17 to see how their brain responded to simple words and sounds. The groups included kids with low-functioning autism, high-functioning autism, and children without autism. Bonnie found that there was a general deficit in the amplitudes of the brain waves among members of both autism groups. But there was little difference between children with high-functioning and severe autism.
“These results point to the existence of deficits in the processing of auditory information in autism regardless of its severity and intellectual abilities,” she wrote in a summary of her findings.
Bonnie is applying to colleges and art schools for next year and is interested in becoming an interior designer.