Research Assistants

Tracey D’Cunha - Research Assistant

Tracey D’Cunha

I just completed my Bachelor's of Science degree with high distinction as a psychology specialist. I am currently working on a series of studies looking at the effects of oxytocin receptors in the nucleus accumbens on maternal behaviour in rats. I plan on applying for a masters degree in neuroscience in the fall, and eventually obtaining a PhD. That's what she said. In my spare time I enjoy buying and wearing high end shoes, so if research does not work out for me I plan on becoming a shoe model.

I am interested in the interactions between the brain and behaviour. More specifically I am interested in the neurochemistry and neuroendocrinology of various behavioural systems. Last year I worked on a project that looked at the effects of an oxytocin antagonist infused into the nucleus accumbens shell on maternal memory in post-partum rats. Previous research in our lab has found that the nucleus accumbens (the shell region) is important for the consolidation of maternal memory, which is the long-term retention of maternal responsiveness based on an animal's previous experiences with offspring. I am currently completing a follow-up study in which post-partum rats are infused with oxytocin into the nucleus accumbens and tested for maternal memory.

A couple of years ago, I completed a short study that investigated the effects of sexual experience and time of sampling after a sexual bout on plasma testosterone levels in male rats. In the future I would like to investigate the neural circuitry of maternal behaviour, but also investigate other motivational systems, such as sexual behaviour or feeding behaviour.