BY AMANDA GOCHEZ
2013 Symposium on Student Research,
Creative Activities and Innovation Finalist


As a graduate student in psychology, research experience has been priceless in my education. I have a great desire to pursue a career in academia and without a deep understanding of the theory as well as practice of science reaching my goal would be impossible. Before coming to CSUSM I had never worked with an animal model before and have found the training and support for this transition impeccable. I have also had access to some of the best technology and equipment to execute my studies as well as the continued support of my mentors, labmates and fellow students. I feel confident in my skills as a researcher now to continue going forward and pursuing my education and career.

About my Research
My research focuses on better understanding the impact mood states and general disposition have on the development of reward and addiction. To examine this I used an animal model of affect by utilizing rodents’ ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs) as a measure of how the animals were feeling in response to methamphetamine.

Rats and other rodents vocalize to each other out of the normal human range of hearing with certain types and ranges of vocalizations indicating either positive (“happy”) or negative (“sad”) affect. I also looked at the animals’ rate of vocalizing in the absence of drug (during baseline recordings) as a measure of their general disposition as well as in response to a moderate dose of methamphetamine.

I found that the animals that produced more “happy” calls during baseline actually produced less of these calls in response to meth and more of the “sad” calls. The opposite was true for animals that produced few “happy” calls during baseline, they produced more “happy” calls and less “sad” calls in response to drug.

These results indicate that our general temperament or disposition plays a large part in the appraisal of drug experiences and the development of reward. These results could provide a stepping stone for the development of a new animal model of personality type or disposition.

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Amanda Gochez is among the 10 finalists representing CSUSM at the 27th annual statewide Student Research Competition held at Cal Poly Pomona on May 10-11. Hear firsthand how her research is leading to new discoveries, positively impacting her education and propeling her toward her future aspirations.

Graduate Studies and Research