Mike Dash
Office
McCardell Bicen Hall 281
Tel
(802) 443-5823
Email
mdash@middlebury.edu
Office Hours
Spring 2022: Mondays/Wednesdays 10:00am - 11:00am; Thursdays 11:00am - 12:00pm

Mike Dash is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Middlebury College.  He arrived at Middlebury in 2014 after working as a post-doctoral fellow at Syracuse University.  He received a B.A. in Neuroscience from Kenyon College and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of Wisconsin.

Mike’s research focuses on elucidating the physiological, behavioral, and cognitive consequences of spontaneous brain activity.  The vast majority of brain activity appears to occur independently of a specific cognitive or behavioral task.  Although it is poorly understood why such extensive resources are dedicated to this task-independent activity, it is becoming increasingly clear that spontaneous brain activity can modulate brain function and even the physiology of the brain itself!  Consequently, our studies of spontaneous brain activity can help elucidate fundamental features of how our brains function.  Currently, the lab is investigating the effects of spontaneous activity on sleep, learning and memory, and cerebral metabolism.

Courses Taught

Course Description

Your Brain at College
You are embarking on a four-year journey in which the actions you take, material you study, and people you interact with will collectively produce lasting changes to your brain (and by extension, fundamentally alter who you are). Utilizing research from psychology and neuroscience, our course will explore a diverse set of mechanisms (e.g. sleep, learning/memory, emotion/stress) that contribute to persistent changes in brain structure and function. In doing so, you will develop 1) an appreciation for the complexity of the brain and 2) strategies to help your own brain successfully navigate the college experience. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2020

Requirements

CW, SCI

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Course Description

Independent Research
Students enrolled in NSCI 0500 complete individual research projects involving laboratory or extensive library study on a topic chosen by the student and approved in advance by a NSCI faculty advisor. This course is not open to seniors; seniors should enroll in NSCI 0700. (Approval required)

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Winter 2023, Spring 2023

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Course Description

Senior Research
This course is for senior NSCI majors who plan to conduct one or more semesters of independent research, or who plan to complete preparatory work toward a senior thesis, such as researching and writing a thesis proposal as well as, if appropriate, collecting data that will form the basis for a senior thesis. Senior NSCI majors who plan to complete a senior thesis should register initially for NSCI 0700. Additional requirements may include participation in weekly meetings with advisors and/or lab groups and attending neuroscience seminars. (Approval required, open to seniors only)

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Winter 2023, Spring 2023

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Course Description

Senior Thesis
Senior NSCI majors who have completed one or more terms of NSCI 0700, who have a GPA of 3.3 in their major courses, and who plan to complete a senior thesis should register for NSCI 0701 for the final semester of the senior thesis process. Students enrolled in NSCI 0701 write a thesis, give a public presentation of their research, and present an oral defense of the thesis before a committee of at least two Neuroscience faculty members. Faculty may recommend High honors in Neuroscience after considering the quality of these components of a student’s thesis and the student’s GPA in major courses. Additional requirements may include participation in weekly meetings with advisors and/or lab groups and attending neuroscience seminars. (NSCI 0700, Approval required)

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Winter 2023, Spring 2023

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Course Description

Psychological Statistics
This course will examine statistical methods used in the behavioral and biological sciences. Students will learn the logic underlying statistical analysis, focusing primarily on inferential techniques. They also will become familiar with the application and interpretation of statistics in psychological empirical research, including the use of computer software for conducting and interpreting statistical analyses. (PSYC 0105; open to psychology and neuroscience majors and undeclared majors, others by waiver. Not open to students who have taken MATH 0116 or ECON 0210) 3 hrs. lect./1.5 hr. lab

Terms Taught

Spring 2021, Spring 2022, Fall 2022

Requirements

DED

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Course Description

Brain Plasticity
Starting in early development and continuing throughout your lifespan, your experiences will restructure your brain and thereby change who you are! We will explore the foundations of brain plasticity through the investigation of brain development, memory and memory systems, and the neurobiology of memory. Our understanding of brain plasticity will be applied to better understand how plasticity can be harnessed to improve cognition and alleviate a variety of brain disorders. Our exploration will be informed by authors, and artists portrayals of memory, scientific literature, and clinical case studies. (PSYC 0105 or any BIOL course; open to psychology and neuroscience majors; others by waiver) 3 hrs. lect.

Terms Taught

Spring 2020, Fall 2021, Fall 2022

Requirements

SCI

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Course Description

Sensation and Perception
Remarkably, using just five basic senses, our brains translate simple external stimuli (e.g. light and sound waves) into unique and vivid perceptual experiences enabling us to interact with our surrounding physical reality. Focusing primarily on the underlying mechanisms of vision and audition, we will explore how our brains construct detailed representations of our world. Throughout these explorations, we will identify perceptual limitations and investigate how mental processes such as attention and emotion affect our perceptions. We will review recent scientific articles and conduct experiments. (PSYC 0105 or any BIOL course; not open to first year students; open to psychology and neuroscience majors; others by waiver) 3 hrs. lect./1 hr. disc.

Terms Taught

Fall 2019, Spring 2021, Fall 2021

Requirements

SCI

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Course Description

Directed Research in Psychology
Directed research provides opportunities for advanced students to become familiar with and participate in ongoing research projects under the direction of a faculty member. The student will first read background literature on the content area to be investigated and experimental methodologies to be used. Procedures involved in conducting psychological research will then be learned through firsthand experience. Potential activities include the design of research and the defining of conceptual variables and the gathering, analyzing, and interpretation of data. Finally, students will learn how to write technical articles in psychology by preparing a paper describing the project, using APA style. (Approval required; not open to first-year students) 3 hrs. lect.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Winter 2023, Spring 2023

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Course Description

Rhythms of the Brain
How do the ~86 billion neurons of the human brain coordinate their activity to produce complex cognition and behavior? In this course we will explore how rhythmic oscillations in neuronal activity may provide a unified mechanism that contributes to diverse brain functions including attention, learning and memory, motor coordination, sleep, respiration, and perhaps even consciousness itself. Through background lectures and class discussion of primary scientific literature, students will develop their understanding of the relationships between ongoing neuronal activity, cognition, and behavior. (PSYC 0226/0301 or PSYC 0303 or NSCI 0100 or NSCI 0252; open to junior/senior psychology and neuroscience majors; others by waiver) 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2022

Requirements

SCI

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Course Description

Advanced Research
A program of research arranged to meet the needs of advanced students majoring in psychology. (Approval required)

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Winter 2023, Spring 2023

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Course Description

Senior Research
A program of research arranged to meet the needs of advanced senior majors in psychology. (PSYC 0201 and PSYC 0202; Approval required)

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Winter 2023, Spring 2023

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Course Description

Senior Thesis Proposal
Students hoping to be considered as candidates for departmental honors must enroll in PSYC 0701 under the sponsorship of a department faculty member and submit a formal, written research proposal to the department by 5 p.m. on the Wednesday during the final week of fall classes in their senior year. If the proposal is approved, the student will enroll in PSYC 0702 during the winter term and PSYC 0703 during the spring term of their senior year. (Feb graduates should consult with their advisors about the appropriate semester in which to begin a thesis.) (PSYC 0201 and PSYC 0202; Approval required)

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Winter 2023, Spring 2023

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Course Description

Senior Thesis Second Semester
Students whose honors thesis proposal (PSYC 0701) has been approved will collect, analyze, and interpret their data. This is the second semester of the 3-semester senior thesis. (PSYC 0201, PSYC 0202, and PSYC 0701; Approval required)

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Winter 2023, Spring 2023

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Course Description

Senior Thesis*
This is the third and final semester of the senior thesis. Students will finish analyzing, and interpreting their data. This process culminates in a written thesis to be submitted by 4 p.m. on the Monday BEFORE the final week of spring classes, a presentation, and an oral defense. The decision about awarding departmental honors will be made after the student submits the thesis. (PSYC 0201, PSYC 0202, and PSYC 0702; Approval required)

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Winter 2023, Spring 2023

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Publications