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Publications in VIVO

Vigers, Alison Jane

Senior Instructor


Research Areas research areas


research overview

  • I am currently teaching but my research projects over many years have included cell biology, pharmacology and neuroscience. My most recent research (1996 - 2013) was in Kevin Jones’ lab studying the role that BDNF plays in the development and maintenance of the central nervous system. Using conditional forebrain-specific BDNF knock-out mice, I compared behavioral and neuroanatomical defects in late-onset and early-onset forebrain mutants. We found that continued expression of BDNF in the forebrain of the adult mouse is essential for normal neuroanatomy (especially spine density on cortical neurons) and behaviors (including spatial learning and depression). These observations are consistent with the hypothesis that reduced levels of BDNF in the adult human forebrain may contribute to synapse loss, and eventually to the cognitive impairment and neuronal atrophy that occur in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.


  • Neurobiology, development of the nervous system, maintenance of synaptic connections in the adult brain, neurodegeneration, diseases of the nervous system


selected publications


courses taught

  • MCDB 2150 - Principles of Genetics
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2018
    Introduces the behavior of genes and chromosomes in eukaryotic and prokaryotic organisms. Covers three areas: transmission genetics, molecular genetics, and population genetics. Attention is given to genetic mapping, recombinant DNA procedures, and gene expression. Recommended prerequisite: MCDB 1150 or EBIO 1210 or CHEN 2810 (minimum grade C-) and recommended corequisite of MCDB 2152. Degree credit not granted for this course and MCDB 2222.
  • MCDB 3010 - Undergraduate Teaching in Course-Based Undergraduate Research Experiences
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2019
    To address the need for more advanced and continued participation in course-based research, MCDB 3010 is designed to train students who have taken MCDB 1171 or MCDB 2171 or MCDB 4202 as teaching assistants. The aim is to enhance the students' experience and responsibilities in course-based research and to prepare them for research and mentorship in a departmental or graduate laboratory. May be repeated up to 4 total credit hours.
  • MCDB 3140 - Cell Biology Laboratory
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2018 / Spring 2019 / Fall 2019 / Spring 2020
    Provides laboratory experience using microscopy, bioinformatics, DNA isolation, PCR and gel electrophoresis to study cell biology and gene expression in a model organism. Students will learn research skills such as interpreting data and planning experiments. Recommended corequisite: MCDB 3135 or MCDB 3145.
  • NRSC 4011 - Senior Thesis
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2022
    Senior Thesis credits are available for students during the semester that they write and defend a departmental Honors Thesis. A neuroscience honors thesis must be based on an empirical research project that the student directs/participates in under guidance from a faculty member. Contact the neuroscience director for further information.
  • NRSC 4072 - Clinical Neuroscience: A Clinical and Pathological Perspective
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2018 / Fall 2018 / Spring 2019 / Fall 2019 / Spring 2020 / Fall 2020 / Spring 2021 / Fall 2021 / Spring 2022 / Fall 2022
    Provides a review of the anatomy and physiology of the nervous system and then explores how alterations in these systems can result in neurologic or psychiatric disorders. Emphasizes pathological neuroanatomy, neurophysiology and neuropharmacology, which is essential for understanding problems related to health and disease. Same as NRSC 5072.
  • NRSC 4561 - Special Topics in Neuroscience
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2020 / Spring 2021
    Presents and analyzes special interest topics from the broad and interdisciplinary field of neuroscience. The instructor determines the content of a particular section. Repeatable for up to 6.00 total credit hours.
  • NRSC 4572 - Developmental Neurobiology
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2021 / Spring 2022 / Fall 2022
    Examines the molecular and cellular processes that generate a functional nervous system. Topics covered include cell fate determination, neurogenesis and gliogenesis, cell migration, axon pathfinding, synapse formation and synapse refinement. Also explores how alterations in development can result in neurologic or psychiatric disorders. Recommended prerequisite or corequisite: MCDB 3135. Formerly offered as a special topics course.


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