A grant has been awarded to Dr. Nancy H. Kolodny and her colleagues at Wellesley College, an undergraduate liberal arts college for women, to establish a Magnetic Resonance Micro-Imaging Facility in Wellesley's Science Center. This facility will offer unique interdisciplinary research, teaching, and learning opportunities to Wellesley's faculty and students, with initial research projects in the emerging field of neuroscience.
With the establishment of the micro-imaging facility, two different types of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) techniques, functional MRI (fMRI) and contrast enhanced MRI will be developed. These techniques will be used to answer important neurobiological questions. Functional MRI will be utilized to examine the brains of crustaceans such as lobsters, and mice. Details of activity patterns in the olfactory pathway of the crustacean brain will be elucidated. In mice, the question of whether gender and age affect brain function will be investigated, focusing on the response of the brain to stimulation of the whisker barrels. Contrast enhancement techniques will be used to address questions related to the role of serotonin, an important brain biochemical, in olfactory neurons in newborn crustaceans. An MRI experiment will be introduced into Wellesley's undergraduate introductory developmental biology course. Students will use MRI to explore the pupal development of tobacco hawkmoth. Not only will this give students experience with MRI, it will also provide an opportunity for dynamic observation of living organisms during development.
The scientific problems to be examined in the new Magnetic Resonance Micro-Imaging Facility at Wellesley College are of importance in the developing basic understanding of brain and neuron function. Furthermore, training undergraduate students in the use of MRI will both inspire them to further study of science and enable them to pursue sophisticated research during their college years and beyond.