Braymiller researches brain

Mike Murphy photo: Jessica Braymiller did brain neuroscience research.Mike Murphy photo: Jessica Braymiller did brain neuroscience research.

A Mercyhurst senior psychology major was granted a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to conduct neuroscience research as a team member at George Mason University.

Jessica Braymiller applied through the APA Summer Science Fellowship and was one of the 12 chosen who were given the opportunity.

She worked with the department of Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience on a study of brain activity while undergoing difficult discrimination tasks.

The team measured the activity using an fMRI, or functional magnetic resonance imaging magnet.

Braymiller learned how to use the machine and is now certified in its operation and safety, an advantage that she will have over other students when applying to further her education.

The experience she had led her to pursue higher education in Cognitive Neuroscience in grad school, and someday wants to do research with adolescent neurodevelopment and its effect on decision-making skills and risk-taking.

In the meantime however, Braymiller is transitioning what she learned at George Mason and applying it to her ongoing research here at Mercyhurst. She is the research assistant of Matthew Weaver, Ph.D. in the Lab of Addictive and Impulsive Behaviors, located in the psychology building. Currently, she is applying her newly-developed skills in conducting experimental research and analyzing data examining the difference in smoking behaviors in dependent and non-dependent smokers.

“I loved working with the fMRI magnet,” Braymiller said.

The unique experience of working on such an elite team at George Mason and handling advanced technology like the fMRI magnet will help Braymiller continue to reap the benefits as she applies to PhD programs across the country.