Student NameNatalie Rilo
Faculty Mentor NameSara Jo Nixon
CollegeCollege of Medicine
Research InterestsAlcohol Use Disorder, Neurophysiology, Sex Differences, Cognition
Academic AwardsBright Futures Scholar, Dean's List
OrganizationsNorth Florida Chapter Society for Neuroscience, Center for Addiction Research and Education, American Medical Student Association, Gator Emergency Medical Response Unit, Psi Chi, Delta Gamma
Hobbies and InterestsGoing to the beach, cooking, traveling

Research Project

Posterior Alpha Power during Working Memory Maintenance in Men and Women with Alcohol Use Disorder

Our laboratory is interested in the neural concomitants of alcohol use disorder (AUD). Specifically, my project will look at neurophysiology during working memory (WM) in treatment-seeking men and women with AUD relative to healthy controls. Individuals with AUD commonly display performance deficits on an array of cognitive measures including those assessing WM. Recent findings from our lab suggest that these alterations are more pronounced in women with AUD. The neural correlates of these sex-specific cognitive changes associated with chronic alcohol use are not understood. We intend to examine AUD and sex related shifts in neural activation during the maintenance phase of a WM task. WM maintenance involves sustaining the integrity of a relevant stimulus while protecting it from potential distractors. Posterior alpha waves (7-12Hz) are indicative of internal focus as seen during WM maintenance. Although posterior alpha is altered in men and women with AUD at rest, it is unclear whether changes in alpha power will be present during WM maintenance. This work will clarify the neural processes underlying AUD and sex-specific decrements in WM performance.