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Multisensory integration (MSI) is the process by which the brain takes in multiple sources of sensory information and integrates it to create an improved and detailed interpretation of the surrounding environment. While this process is both interesting to study from the evolutionary standpoint (it is an ancient circuitry that has remained highly conserved), and from the pathology standpoint (deficits in MSI are found in individuals with certain disorders), the cellular mechanisms are not completely clear. Although there are some studies that explore the mechanisms and processes of MSI, many use animal models that are not as ideal to work with for MSI research. The aim of this study was to observe whether Xenopus laevis tadpoles could be used as a reliable animal model for further MSI studies, and possibly understand more about MSI in the process. To do this, I found a reliable visual stimulus that would elicit a response in tadpoles, optimized it, and then tested pre-existing principles of MSI to confirm that my behavioral set up worked and could be used for subsequent experiments. Once I found that the results of these experiments were consistent with these existing principles, I was then able to move forward and troubleshoot conditioning protocols to better understand how MSI is learned in tadpoles. Overall, I found that Xenopus laevis tadpoles are a promising animal model for multisensory integration experiments, and that the behavioral set up and stimuli used for these experiments can be reliably used for future studies.
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McQuillan, Molly, "The Effects of Multisensory Integration on the Behavior of Xenopus laevis Tadpoles" (2017). Senior Projects Spring 2017. 101.