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Cognitive and Neurobiological Approaches to Plasticity

Cognitive & Neurobiological Approaches to Plasticity

Contact information

Kansas State University
Department of Psychological Sciences
492 Bluemont Hall
1114 Mid-Campus Drive
Manhattan,KS 66506
Phone: (785) 532-6850

Cite Us!
P20GM113109

About Us

CNAP LogoThe CNAP Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) was founded in 2017 through a $10.6M grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH, P20GM113109). In July 2022, we received a Phase 2 renewal award, which provides an additional $11.2 million and five more years of support. CNAP is housed at Kansas State University in the Department of Psychological Sciences  and is directed by Dr. Kimberly Kirkpatrick. Dr. David Thompson of the K-State Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering serves as the Associate Director. K-State hosts three research projects (led by Drs. Maria Diehl, Stephanie Hall, and Matthew Wisniewski) and three research cores. The Behavioral Neuroscience Core (directed by Dr. Charles Pickens) and the Cognitive Neuroscience Core (directed by Dr. Alexandria Zakrzewski) are housed in the Department of Psychological Sciences. The Neuroinformatics Core is directed by Dr. Daniel Andresen and is housed within the Beocat supercomputing cluster facility in the Carl R. Ice College of Engineering.

A main objective of CNAP is to support the development of junior investigators into independently funded investigators, and to develop a critical mass of investigators who can compete for peer-reviewed extramural funding in neuroplasticity research.  For more information about our center's aims and objectives, see our Overarching Aims

CNAP Team

Above: The CNAP team

Our Research

Changes that occur in the brain as a function of growth, aging, or experience are referred to collectively as plasticity. Plasticity is essential for adaptive behaviors, and is important for healthy functioning. CNAP researchers investigate plasticity in humans and in animal models using basic and translational research techniques.  The overarching goal of the center is to understand the mechanisms of cognitive/neural plasticity and to promote healthy functioning.

CNAP funds research through two-to three-year research projects, and through smaller pilot grants (typically lasting one to two years).  Throughout Phase 1, CNAP supported a total of five separate research projects and 12 pilot grants under the overall research umbrella of neuroplasticity. We are excited to continue this support during our Phase 2 award.

aging researchResearch Themes

Synergy among our research programs is promoted by three cross-cutting themes that stimulate interdisciplinary connections among faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students conducting research in relevant programs across K-State and at partner institutions.

Research on the neurobiology of learning and memory will study the brain processes involved in learning and memory. Areas of focus include examining memory decline in a rodent Alzheimer's model, studying the neural processes involved in social learning of avoidance behaviors in rodents, and examining the oscillatory brain dynamics that predict auditory memory retrieval. This theme connects with all three of our initial Phase 2 research projects and will be supported by all three cores.  

The neuromodulation and assessment theme reflects the Phase 2 additions to two of our research cores, as the Behavioral Neuroscience Core will add optogenetics and electrophysiology capabilities, and the Phase 1 Electroencephalography Core will evolve into the new, broader Cognitive Neuroscience Core with the addition of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and repetitive TMS (rTMS) facilities and equipment.  The CNAP scientific exchange network (SEN) will also contribute to research in this area, as we have worked to develop relationships with local and regional organizations to support small animal imaging, and structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging for human research participants. All three research projects connect with this theme. 

brain imageResearch featuring advanced computational modeling is an area of recent growth. This theme emerged from ongoing and planned advances of the Neuroinformatics Core to incorporate machine learning and artificial intelligence models, and to continue supporting other advanced computational modeling techniques. All three initial research projects will incorporate advanced modeling techniques into their research programs. In addition, the SEN will contribute to this theme through informatics connections with centers in our network. This theme is critical to the success of investigators in securing extramural funding as grant agencies are increasingly emphasizing machine learning and other advanced modeling techniques as a priority area. We aim to put our CNAP investigators ahead of the curve in this area.

Research Accomplishments

CNAP researchers have produced 47 peer-reviewed publications and given 138 presentations at academic conferences and programs to date.  Our center has also generated 92 grant proposals, requesting more than $51 million, and our awarded grants total more than $8 million. You can view a full list of our publications produced in the first four years of our center.