Caras, Melissa

Assistant Professor
Department of Biology
Program in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science
Center for Comparative and Evolutionary Biology of Hearing
College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences
3220 Biology-Psychology Building
General Research Interests: 
-Study of the organization, function and plasticity of the circuits that support auditory learning
 
Training hones the ear of the budding musician, refines the palate of the candidate sommelier, and sharpens the eye of the student artist. This ability to improve our perceptual skills- to get better with practice- is critical for the acquisition of many complex behaviors, including speech and language. The fundamental importance of perceptual learning, and the promise it holds for enhancing communication abilities, makes it of vital interest to determine how training-based improvements are implemented in the brain. By measuring and manipulating the activation of neural circuits in freely-moving, behaving animals, the Caras Lab seeks to understand how sensory and cognitive systems work together to enable perceptual learning.
Background: 
Dr. Caras will join the Department of Biology as an Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland College Park in Fall 2019. She received her PhD in Neurobiology and Behavior from the University of Washington (2013), and completed her postdoctoral training in the Center for Neural Science at New York University (2013-current).