Hadley Bergstrom is a psychologist, studying in the Laboratory of Behavioral & Genomic Neuroscience. Hadley studies how habits and memories are formed, and is trying to better understand addiction.
0:17 My name is Hadley Bergstrom and we're at the NIAAA.
0:20 in Rockville, Maryland.
0:27 And I study how habits are formed. So
0:30 all the way from...you know...habits like tying your shoe
0:34 to driving a car. These are the type of memories that I'm interested in.
0:38 And I'm learning about how they're formed in the brain...especially related to
0:42 disorders such as addiction and
0:45 also post-traumatic stress disorder. So I'm actually from
0:49 a small rural town in Oregon...extremely small town. And both my parents are not
0:55 scientists at all. In fact, my mother's an elementary school teacher and my father is
1:00 an art teacher
1:01 at a middle school. I always wanted to be a scientist.
1:04 When I was a little kid I actually used to cut up plastic jugs
1:08 and put them together, and pour different colors of water through them
1:12 so that they would kind of create kind of a scientific...
1:16 you know...kind of toolbox. I took a job as a research technician
1:20 out of my undergraduate college years
1:23 in Oregon and I remember I ran my first experiment by myself
1:29 and we had results. And the experiment didn't work.
1:33 It actually failed, but it kind of lead us in a new direction.
1:37 And I had so much fun with that and I think from that point on I just...
1:40 I love being a lab and running experiments and doing what I do.
1:43 I look at very small structures in the brain called spines.
1:47 These spines are thought to store memory, and so what I do they take very detailed
1:52 measurements these spines
1:54 and I link that with different types of learning and memory in the brain.
1:58 What we're looking at is a reconstruction
2:01 of a brain and different parts for the brain
2:05 that are thought to store memories. I took a brain
2:09 and I digitally reconstructed
2:12 different aspects up this brain and from this
2:15 model I can get different measurements and I apply some mathematics.
2:19 So I can understand...what we know from this is that
2:22 different types of learning and memory can actually alter
2:26 the brain in different ways. I do
2:30 lots of microscopic work both using lasers again...
2:33 laser microscopy, fluorescent microscopy and
2:36 light microscopy. We're looking at a brain
2:43 with cells that are lit up using what's called a green
2:47 fluorescent protein. And so this allows us to look at the
2:51 the structure of the cells...the anatomy of the cells. And from this
2:55 we can again take measurements
2:58 and see if there are differences in the overall structure of the cells
3:03 that relate to different stages of learning and memory.
3:06 On a daily basis you're doing something that no one else is doing
3:10 possibly in the world. And you're making... you're making discoveries
3:15 that may have profound impact on
3:20 human civilization essentially. And you're working with great people...
3:25 there's quite a bit have collaboration that occurs. So what I'm doing is I'm
3:29 testing the
3:30 output have this laser. This is a blue light laser obviously
3:34 its 473 nanometer wavelength light.
3:37 And...and what we can do is we can see how much
3:41 is the very tip output of this laser.
3:44 Here its at about 12 milliwatts, which is quite high.
3:49 This is...this is a good wavelength light for activating
3:52 channelrhodopsin in
3:55 ...in the brain so that's the next experiment we're going to try.
3:57 Stay curious. Stay curious in your surroundings.
4:01 You will run into problems along the way
4:05 and...and in fact if you don't that would be a weird thing. You wanna
4:09 stay persistent in what you do
4:10 and good outcomes will happen.