Student Features

Report from Scotland: Tolu Salako


Tolu Salako is a fourth-year Dedman College student with majors in Biological Sciences, Psychology, and Health and Society. This summer, she participated in the SMU STEM Research program, which is a 6-week intensive summer program for students in STEM fields. The program is hosted at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, and students work in an intimate setting with faculty and other students on their chosen research topic. For more information about SMU-in-Glasgow, as well as other study abroad opportunities, visit our Study Abroad page.

My name is Tolu Salako and I am a senior at SMU triple majoring in Biological Sciences, Psychology, and Health & Society on the pre-health track. On campus, I am an SMU Ambassador/Tour Guide, President of the Minority Association of Pre-Health Students, and a research assistant at the Anxiety and Depression lab at SMU.

Over the summer I decided to study abroad in a new program with the University of Glasgow in Scotland. The SMU-in-Glasgow program is a bit different from other SMU-Abroad programs because I did not take any classes, but I got to conduct my own research for six weeks and present it to faculty and graduate students at the university. I decided to conduct research with the Psychology department under Dr. Frank Pollick and continued his research on fMRI (Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) neurofeedback on brain state while listening to music. 

While in Glasgow, I created a scrubbing algorithm to determine whether or not head movement, while in the fMRI machine, affected the results on whether or not individuals could upregulate or downregulate the posterior parietal cortex when listening to certain musical pieces. The posterior parietal cortex is associated with cognition and emotion and the results from this study could influence how we use music in therapy and treatment for emotional disorders. I am still editing my algorithm, but after removing the motion artifact, I hypothesize that after I run an analysis of variance, there will be a main effect in terms of regulation. I hope that the removal of the motion artifact will reduce the variability of results seen in previous studies.

Researching in Scotland was truly a dream come true. I not only got to perform my own research in one of the oldest English-speaking universities in the world, but I also got to immerse myself in the Scottish culture. It is an experience I will never forget and I cannot wait to visit the beautiful city of Glasgow again.