Coming to Marseille: testimonies

Foreign students who have come to Marseille tell us all about it.

Oldenburg students who came to Marseille

We are a group of Master’s students from the University of Oldenburg studying Neuroscience and Neurocognitive Psychology. Fortunately, we were able to escape the cold of Northern Germany for a few months to enjoy the sun of Marseille, thanks to A*Midex grants.

Jannes: During my 3-month internship in the INS Theoretical Neuroscience group, I had the chance to work on a unique set of data recorded from intracranial electrodes. I wrote interfaces between MATLAB and several Python libraries, went through the usual pre-processing steps, and trained a convolutional neural network to classify the data. While writing Python modules I learned a lot about object-oriented programming and how to actually apply machine learning algorithms to brain data using Google’s TensorFlow library. The people at INS are accessible and always interested in sharing ideas.

Marius: I participated in a project in which we used the EEG and an exoskeleton to study the role of different frequency bands in a complex sensorimotor task. Previously, I had already developed an interest in action production processes and wanted to work with electrophysiological data. The project was a great experience and it was a lot of fun to work closely with researchers from both groups (LNC and INT). I felt very well integrated because they were always keen to involve me in any experimental discussion and I also learned a lot about daily life in a research institute.

Rebecca: For the last 5 months, I have been working on an interlocutor coordination project studied with fMRI in the BANCO and SCALP teams of INT. It is a rather new approach and therefore a risky project that explores the neural mechanisms of communication and I have been able to follow and participate in the whole process, from the initial work on the experimental paradigm to the first piloting and, of course, to the analysis of these data. I had a lot of fun applying my previously acquired MATLAB and SPM skills and I can safely say that it was a very rewarding experience, both personally and professionally.

Kayson: In the last 3 months I have worked with about 40 rats in the BAGAMORE research group at INT and have learned a lot about how to conduct behavioural tasks and why animal research is necessary for neuroscience in general. I use advanced methods such as optogenetics and chemogenetics to disrupt the hyperdirect pathway of the basal ganglia and measure the effects on motivation for food and cocaine. I will continue to learn about data analysis methods over the next three months and hope to use what I have learned here in my PhD project. The goal is to better understand how the prefrontal cortex modulates addiction so that I can exploit it to reduce drug cravings.

Outside of our work, we were very happy to be so warmly welcomed into a world full of baguettes, cheese, pastis and red wine. It was a wonderful experience to immerse yourself in a different culture and we couldn’t encourage you more to do the same!

Interviewed in January 2018

Marta, from Helsinki delighted with her laboratory training in Saint-Charles

My name is Marta Saez Garcia. I study neuroscience at the University of Helsinki and last year I was awarded an A*Midex mobility grant. I spent 3 months in Marseille, where I worked at the Cognitive Psychology Laboratory (LPC) on the St Charles campus. I participated in a project on confidence and peripheral motor activity. It was very interesting not only because of the topic, but also because I had only worked on molecular and developmental studies until then, so it was a completely new field for me.

I have had the opportunity to actively plan and conduct studies on human volunteers, analyze EMG data and discuss possible mechanisms behind our findings.

Internships are a great opportunity to challenge yourself, to try new areas and techniques. It also gave me the opportunity to discover a new country with an incredible culture and to meet extraordinary people from all over the world.

Interviewed in April 2018

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