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Blake Porter, B.A. Hons

University of Otago — New Zealand

Phone: +64 021-338-020

Email: blakeporterneuro@gmail.com

 

Education:

Ph.D. in Psychology February 2014 – Present (submitted January 2017)

University of Otago – Dunedin, NZ

B.A. in Neuroscience with Honors September 2009 – May 2013                                                    

Minor: Human Physiology

Boston University – Boston, MA

 

Research Experience:

Kristin Hillman Lab for the Neural Basis of Effortful Behaviour 2017 – 2020

Post-doctoral fellow

University of Otago, Dunedin, NZ

 

David Bilkey Lab for Brain and Behavior February 2014 – Present

In conjunction with the Brain Health and Research Center

PhD Student

University of Otago, Dunedin, NZ

Use of in vivo electrophysiology techniques to investigate how self-control is represented at a neural level, the effects that choice costs have on the brain’s representation of the world, and the circuit level dynamics of planning actions utilizing cost information

 

Howard Eichenbaum Lab for Cognitive Neurobiology February 2012 – January 2014

Research Assistant

Boston University, Boston, MA, USA

Use of in vivo electrophysiology techniques to investigate the structure of memory consolidation and organization in the hippocampus with learning, hippocampal and medial prefrontal circuit dynamics in a context-guided object association task, and to investigate the neural mechanisms by which conjunctive encoding within the dentate gyrus and between the dentate gyrus and other hippocampal subregions.

 

Publications:

  • Lara M. Rangel, Blake Porter, Ian S. Heimbuch, Pamela D. Riverère, Katie Keefe, and Howard Eichenbaum. Conjunctive encoding in the Dentate Gyrus of the Hippocampus. (in prep)
  • Lara M. Rangel, Jon W. Rueckemann, Pamela D. Riverère, Katie R. Keefe, Blake S. Porter, Ian S. Heimbuch, Carl H. Budlong, and Howard Eichenbaum. Rhythmic coordination of hippocampal neurons during associative memory processing. eLife. 11 January 2016. 5:e09849. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.09849. Open Access.
  • Anja Farovik, Ryan Place, Samuel McKenzie, Blake Porter, Catherine Munro, and Howard Eichenbaum. Orbitofrontal cortex encodes memories within value-based schemas and represents contexts that guide memory retrieval. Journal of Neuroscience. 27 May 2015. 35(21):8333-8344. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0134-15.2015
  • Sam McKenzie, Andrea J. Frank, Nathaniel R. Kinsky, Blake Porter, Pamela D. Riverère, and Howard Eichenbaum. Hippocampal Representation of Related and Opposing Memories Develop within Distinct, Hierarchically Organized Neural Schemas. Neuron. 2 July 2014. 83(1)202 – 215. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2014.05.019

 

Poster Presentations:

  • Blake S. Porter, Calvin K. Young, and David K. Bilkey. Hippocampal place cell representations of effortful space. Australasian Winter Conference on Brain Research, 2016.
  • Blake S. Porter, Kristin L. Hillman,  and David K. Bilkey. The neural mechanisms of representing effortful space. Australasian Winter Conference on Brain Research, 2015.
  • Lara M. Rangel, Katie R. Keefe, Pamela D. Riverère, Carl H. Budlong, Ian S. Heimbuch, Blake Porter, and Howard Eichenbaum. Single cell and ensemble odor-place representations in the Dentate Gyrus and CA1 of the Hippocampus. Society for Neuroscience 2014 Conference.
  • Lara M. Rangel, Jeremiah S. Rosen, K. V. Chawla, Brian J. Ferreri, Ian Heimbuch, Blake Porter, and Howard Eichenbaum. Persistent increases in beta frequency oscillatory activity in the Dentate Gyrus of the Hippocampus During Object-Context Association Intervals.Society for Neuroscience 2013 Conference.
  • Anja Farovik, Sam McKenzie, Ryan Place, Blake Porter, and Howard Eichenbaum. Neural activity by Medial Prefrontal cell ensembles during context-guided object discrimination. Society for Neuroscience 2013 Conference.
  • Sam McKenzie, Andrea Frank, Lara M. Rangel, Jeremiah S. Rosen, Vittoria Smeglin, Blake Porter, and Howard Eichenbaum. Multidimensionalcoding in the Hippocampal network. Society for Neuroscience 2013 Conference.
  • Blake Porter, Andrea Frank, and Howard Eichenbaum. How does the Hippocampus integrate multiple related memory representations?Boston University Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program Symposium, 2012.

 

Oral Presentations:

  • Blake Porter. The effects of effort on hippocampal spatial representations. Brain Health Research Center 10th Annual Conference, 2016.
  • Blake Porter and David Bilkey. The network dynamics of effort encoding between the hippocampus and anterior cingulate cortex. Brain Health Research Center 9th Annual Conference, 2015.
  • Blake Porter. The cost of space: How the brain works and maybe how it plans costly routes. Presentation at the University of Otago’s Abbey College, 2015.

 

Research Funding:

Postdoctoral Research Fellow on the Marsden Grant “Quit or persist? The neural mechanisms of forfeit behaviour ” 

2017 – 2020

University of Otago

 

PhD Scholarship from the Marsden Grant “The Brain Mechanisms of Self-Control”

February 2014 – Present

University of Otago

 

New Zealand Neurological Foundation Travel Grant

Australasian Winter Conference on Brain Research 2015 and 2016

Queenstown, NZ

 

UROP/HHMI Summer Grant for investigating “How Does the Hippocampus Integrate Multiple Related Memory Representations”

Summer 2012

Boston University

 

Teaching Experience:

Research Teaching and Mentoring: Teaching students rodent behavioral training, stereotaxic surgery, and in vivo electrophysiology methods.

Advisees (their subsequent pursuit):

  • Kate Godfrey (PhD, University of Auckland)
  • Jessica Barton (MSc, Victoria University)
  • Ian Heimbuch (PhD, UCLA)
  • Brian Ferreri

 

Demonstrator at University of Otago

Spring 2016

  • Biopsychology (PSYC317)

 

Research Assistant in Dr. Mike Colombo’s lab for the Neural Basis of Learning and Memory

  • Teaching histology and MATLAB programming

 

Mentor for Boston University Mind and Brain Society

Fall 2011 – Spring 2013

  • Mentored incoming freshman in the Undergraduate Neuroscience Program at BU.

 

Tutor at Tutor.com

October 2010 – September 2011

  • Tutored online from kindergarten to college level in biology, natural sciences, and math.

Work Experience:

Founder and CEO Long Term Potential Inc. May 2016 – Present

Focused on developing STEM education technologies for interactive learning

 

Technical Expertise:

  • Animal Behavior: Rat handling and training on context-object and odor-place associative memory tasks, effort modulated linear tracks, dual animal interaction task. Video behavioural scoring (Cineplex Editor) and behavioural spatial tracking analysis (Matlab). Designing and implementing novel tasks targeted at effort based neural computations.
  • In vivo electrophysiology: 8 – 96 channel microdrive design and construction for multisite recordings using conventional and 3D printing techniques. Implementation of wireless in vivo recording systems and methods. Stereotaxic surgical implantation of microdrives and electrodes for single unit and local field potential recordings in awake-behaving rats targeting hippocampal subregions (CA1, CA3, DG), medial prefrontal cortex, orbitofrontal cortex, and anterior cingulate cortex. Recording single units and local field potentials in awake-behaving rats, spike sorting, and perfusions.
  • Computer programming: Proficient: MATLAB for analysis of behavioural, single unit, and local field potential data. C++/Arduino Development Environment for microcontrollers for the use of data collection and maze controlling (ie, doors, touch screens, solenoids, etc). Some experience: Python, Processing (Java), p5.js (JavaScript).

 

Research Interests:

  • How the brain encodes effort, how it is effort modulates the brain’s representations of the world, and how effort influences goal setting, decision making, and persistence.
  • Brain rhythms and their underlying mechanisms in order to investigate circuit level communication between the hippocampus and downstream structures, particularly the prefrontal cortex.
  • How brain structures organize similar and distinct memories and how memory organization influences learning and decision making.
  • How the brain represents space in three dimensions when the z-axis is behaviourally relevant.