Behavioral Neuroscience Lab

The Champlain College Behavioral Neuroscience Lab is a remarkable asset to Champlain and the state of Vermont. With unique research equipment and expert supervision, it enables students to perform graduate-level research while completing their undergraduate classes or internships.

Psychology students have the opportunity to help design their own experiments and to be listed as co-authors alongside their professors on published scientific papers. The excellent research conducted in the lab has drawn the attention of global researchers and students, who may have opportunities to be involved in international collaborations with Champlain students and faculty.

Lab Research

Research takes place in a small space, removed from outside distractions in order to preserve the focus of participants and avoid the influence of uncontrolled factors in experiments. Faculty and students perform experiments centered around brain stimulation and its effects. Lab research has three main focuses: Cognitive Reserve and Aging Populations, Emotional Regulation (Affective Neuroscience), and Health and Well-Being. 

It is generally uncommon for undergraduate psychology students to have access to the type of equipment, research opportunities, and faculty guidance offered by the Behavioral Neuroscience Lab, making Champlain a premier destination for students looking for a hands-on Psychology education.

If you are interested in an internship at the Behavioral Neuroscience Lab, or you are interested in participating in a lab experiment and using the equipment, please reach out to Barabara Colombo, PhD. at bcolombo@champlain.edu. Internships are generally geared towards Psychology students, while experiment participation is open to all Champlain students.

Lab Equipment

Experience with professional-grade lab equipment makes Champlain students top candidates for research positions.

1x1 TCDS (1x1 low intensity transcranial DC stimulator)

  • The 1x1 TCDS is a brain stimulation machine that is attached to a project participant's head with electrical nodes, and sends signals to different sections of the brain. These brain stimulations can replicate/produce feelings such as anxiety, stress, peacefulness, and more. Participants maneuver through project trials while different sections of the brain are stimulated, and researchers record results. 
  • There are few machines of this kind in all of New England, and access to it offers unique research opportunities. Consistent use has been found to modulate the brain, and can help treat symptoms of depression, anxiety, Alzheimers, and more. Feelings produced by the machine are quick and non-lasting.

1x1 Mini CT

  • The 1x1 Mini CT is a compact version of the 1x1 TCDS. It also stimulates different sections of the brain to produce specific feelings in participants. Though it has fewer options than the TCDS, the benefit of these machines is that they can be used remotely. Participants take the machine home or to another controlled location, and lab researchers control the machine and record information remotely from their computer.

Bio-Neurofeedback Machine

  • The Bio-Neurofeedback machine collects quantitative data based on patients' physiological responses to external or emotional stimuli created by 1x1 TCDS and mini CT. It is connected to a participant's finger and records internal body functions like heart rate, heart rate variability, and skin conductance levels.

EEG Machine (Electroencephalogram)

  • The EEG machine collects quantitative data based on brain responses to stimulation created by 1x1 TCDS and mini CT. It is placed on the scalp, connected by electrical nodes, and records the electricity sent between neurons in different areas of the brain.

Muse Headband (Neurofeedback)

  • The Muse Headband is an EEG-based system that senses brain activity and responds with ad-hoc sounds of weather and nature. This helps individuals recognize how they feel while experiencing different mental states. This awareness can help users change and optimize their feelings, increasing their overall well-being. For example, it may play sounds of crickets or waves when one is relaxed, or thunderstorms and racing drums when one is stressed.
  • These machines are the most widely accessible machines in the lab, and are available for retail sale online for personal use. The machine promotes mindfulness and positive emotion-regulation within individuals. Some students found positive results in just 5 days when using the Muse Band to meditate 15 minutes a day.

Student Opportunities

Get Your Work Published

Students have the opportunity to help design and carry out experiments with 1:1 guidance from their professors. Roughly 70% of published research coming out of the lab lists students as co-authors—another detail that puts Champlain students ahead of the competition when searching for jobs or future research opportunities.

Professor and student working together in a classroom

Lab Access

All Psychology students will utilize the Behavioral Neuroscience Lab at least once in their college career, during the required Behavioral Neuroscience course. Students concentrating in Health & Wellbeing will use the lab more often and more extensively than those concentrating in Social Impact/Social Change. Students who find they enjoy performing research in the Neuroscience Lab have the option to make their degree more neuroscience-based and will be able to conduct even more research.

Professor and student conducting neuroscience research

Graduate-Level Research

The research conducted in the Behavioral Neuroscience Lab is comparable to graduate-level research at other institutions based on level of inquiry and equipment access. This gives Psychology students at Champlain the unique ability to bolster their résumé with specialized credentials and jump-start a career in psychological and neuroscience-based research.

Professor teaching a class to students on laptops

Examples of Student Projects

Image of equipment used in Neuroscience Lab

Cognitive Reserve

  • Assisting Dr. Colombo in the development of a new Cognitive Reserve test (CoRe-T) for measuring how the brain resists neurological damage over time, and how everyday practices can slow or prevent the decline of the mind's functions. The new test replaced the old standard test that could be too complex to understand or glean helpful information from. The CoRe-T is used in many Champlain research projects, and is gaining traction as an international research resource. It has been translated into four languages.
  • Training workers at assisted living communities to better record Cognitive Reserve and practice positive actions towards retaining the brain's functions in aging populations.

Professor and student using neuroscience research equipment

Well-Being

  • Use of the Muse Headband equipment in combination with daily meditation to understand how neurofeedback can increase the effects of meditation on well-being and emotion regulation. Consistent use and general well-being practice over time have been found to boost an individual's cognitive reserve, and when practiced over the span of one's lifetime, can reduce (or in some cases completely stop) the negative effects of diseases like Alzheimer's, Dementia, and Parkinson's.
  • Studying the positive effects of music intervention to increase the wellbeing of incarcerated women in Vermont.
  • Creation of a Mental Wellness App that recommends healthy activities designed around users' personality type, preferences, and lifestyle.

The equipment that we use is used in neurorehabilitation offices, in hospitals, and in healthcare. Being able to use them is something that not everyone can do, so students can use that [lab experience] to get a job with their bachelor degree.

Barbara Colombo, PhD, Professor of Psychology & Lab Founder

ABOUT THE BEHAVIORAL NEUROSCIENCE LAB

People conducting neuroscience research

International Collaboration

Due to its reputation for leading edge research and excellent student instruction, the lab has attracted national and international collaborators. This allows students to broaden their horizons when working with students and professionals from other institutions and countries. For especially motivated students, there are opportunities to travel to research conferences and other institutional courses, both regionally and abroad.

Lab History and Info

The Champlain Behavioral Neuroscience Lab was founded in 2014 by Dr. Barbara Colombo in order to expand the education potential of Champlain Psychology students and enhance faculty research opportunities. The lab is located in room 112 of the S.D. Ireland building. It is open to use for faculty, Psychology majors and minors, interns, and student and professional collaborators. Everyone who uses the lab must be supervised by a professional who is certified in properly using the equipment and working with research participants. For equipment security, the lab is kept locked and access is by appointment only.