Integrative Behavioral Neural Science Lab


Integrative Behavioral Neural Science Lab

The Integrative Behavioral Neural Science Lab conducts research on the effect of autonomic arousal on cognition and behavior as well as investigations of the relative contributions of genes and environmental factors on risk-taking. To do this we utilize a range of techniques including transdermal Vagus nerve stimulation, EEG, and genotyping. The IBNS lab emphasizes teaching students the scientific process by deeply engaging them as student-scientists throughout each step of the study.


 Current Research


Vagus Nerve Study

The vagus nerve is a mixed motor/sensory nerve that provides the brain with information about peripheral state. Transdermal vagus nerve stimulation (tVNS) is a minimally invasive way to study the effects of vagal influence on a wide array of systems and behaviors. Currently we are confirming the capacity of tVNS to alter biomarkers indicating functional activation of the vagal-CNS axis. We are also piloting studies of tVNS effects on cognition.

consent process


Humans are profoundly social and suffer harm when excluded. We are studying how level of autonomic arousal impacts the perception of exclusion and stress biomarkers under conditions of exclusion and inclusion.


Risk Taking

Risk taking is a product of gene-environment interaction. In these studies, we seek to identify the relative contribution of each. We are especially interested in the interactions of genes related to dopamine availability and sensitivity as well as genes related to sociability. Current studies investigate how autonomic arousal and social structure interact with these genes to influence risk-taking.

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IBNS Lab Rules
Throughout the semester the IBNS Lab will have ample opportunity to participate in psychology experiments. Everyone who signs up for lab participation will be offered a chance to participate throughout the semester. Participation is first come, first serve and invites to the sign-up links will be sent out in batches for an approximately 2 week time frame throughout the semester. Sign up is online and the student will select the time and date for their appointment. Following the sign-up the student will receive verification of their sign-up along with instructions about how to prepare for the experiment. Failure to show up for the appointment without notifying the lab will result in a warning for the student. Two no-shows without notice will result in the student being barred from participation in IBNS Lab experiments for the remainder of the semester.

Every 30 minutes spent in an experiment will equal one (1) participation credit. For example a 45 minute experiment would equal 1.5 participation credits or a 2 hour experiment would be the equivalent of 4 participation credits. Every professor has a varying number of participation credits that they require/allow and it is the student’s responsibility to keep track of the number of credits needed for each class. At the start of the experiment the student will decide which professor, or professors, they wish to assign credit to. One lab credit can only be assigned to one professor, however if a student is earning multiple credits during an experiment then they can choose to assign the credits to various professors.

Select yes if you agree to the rules.