Nutrition, Learning and Memory

The Rhodes lab houses the Mouse Cognition Core Facility for the Center for Nutrition, Learning, and Memory. The Core Facility was created to understand how nutrition can optimize brain health across the lifespan along with finding cognitive and behavioral paradigms that will elucidate the effect various nutritional compounds and supplements may have on the brain and behavior. The facility collaborates with both University of Illinois scientists as well as scientists from Abbott Nutrition. Additionally, our lab is also interested in how products of metabolism signal the brain to influence behavioral outcomes such as physical activity, cognitive performance, and food intake.


For the past 6 years, I have directed a core facility for the Center for Nutrition, Learning and Memory (CNLM), a privately funded center which supports multiple projects exploring micronutrient impacts on cognitive performance in humans and animal models.  The projects are led by interdisciplinary teams across multiple laboratories on campus and the nation.  My core provides the staff, equipment, and expertise for performing behavioral testing in mice including multiple tests of learning and memory.  In addition, the core facility provides support for performing molecular biology (RNA-seq analysis, rt-PCR, ELISA, mouse genotyping) and for collecting and analyzing neuroanatomical measurements in mice, mostly using immunohistochemistry and stereology.  Collaborative projects supported by the core include developing a mouse model of chemobrain for nutritional intervention, projects exploring interactions between exercise, dietary fiber and other micronutrients on behavioral performance in mice, and the role of HMB in promoting enhanced cognitive function through muscle-brain interactions.  We have also directly supported projects with Abbott Nutrition scientists exploring the role of natural versus synthetic vitamin E on neurological development in a few different mouse models.  Finally, with Abbott Nutrition scientists, we are trying to find combinations of micronutrients that reliably enhance behavioral performance in aged mice.