Matching Items (8)

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Method Comparison for Odor Discrimination in Camponotus floridanus

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Complex animal societies consist of a plethora of interactions between members. To successfully thrive they must be able to recognize members and their kin, and to understand how they do this we need sufficient and reliable methods of testing. Eusocial

Complex animal societies consist of a plethora of interactions between members. To successfully thrive they must be able to recognize members and their kin, and to understand how they do this we need sufficient and reliable methods of testing. Eusocial insects are especially good at recognizing their nestmates, but the exact mechanism or how well they can discriminate is unknown. Ants achieve nestmate recognition by identifying varying proportions of cuticular hydrocarbons. Previous studies have shown ants can be trained to discriminate between pairs of hydrocarbons. This study aims to compare two methodologies previously shown to demonstrate odor learning to identify which one is the most promising to use for future odor learning experiments. The two methods tested were adapted from Sharma et al. (2015) and Guerrieri and d’Ettorre (2010). The results showed that the Guerrieri method demonstrated learning better and was more reliable and faster than the Sharma method. The Guerrieri method should be used in future experiments regarding odor learning discrimination

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2020-05

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Ants as a Model for Animal Communication: A Study of Ant Cuticular Hydrocarbons

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Across the animal kingdom, communication serves a vital purpose. The transfer of information between and among species is often paramount to many behaviors including mating, collaboration, and defense. While research has provided tremendous insight into animal communication and interaction, there

Across the animal kingdom, communication serves a vital purpose. The transfer of information between and among species is often paramount to many behaviors including mating, collaboration, and defense. While research has provided tremendous insight into animal communication and interaction, there is still much that we have yet to understand. Due to their reliance on interactions that maximize efficiency within their complicated colony structure and array of member roles, eusocial insects serve as an excellent model for animal communication. Among eusocial insects, ants are some of the most heavily researched, with a tremendous amount of literature focused on their cuticular hydrocarbons. Along with serving as a waterproofing agent, cuticular hydrocarbons also play a major role in recognition and communication in these insects. By studying the importance of hydrocarbons in ant social structure, their tremendously specialized olfactory system, and the use of learning assays in its study, parallels between communication in ants and other animals are revealed, demonstrating how ants serve as a relevant model for animal communication as a whole.

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2020-12

Acute tau knockdown in the hippocampus of adult mice causes learning and memory deficits

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To date, it has been difficult to elucidate the role of tau in learning and memory during adulthood due to developmental compensation of other microtubule associated proteins in Tau knockout (KO) mice. Here, we generated an adeno-associated virus (AAV) expressing

To date, it has been difficult to elucidate the role of tau in learning and memory during adulthood due to developmental compensation of other microtubule associated proteins in Tau knockout (KO) mice. Here, we generated an adeno-associated virus (AAV) expressing a doxycycline (doxy)-inducible short-hairpin (sh) RNA targeted to tau, and stereotaxically and bilaterally injected 7-month-old C57BL/6 mice with either the AAV-shRNAtau or an AAV expressing a scramble shRNA sequence. Seven days after the injections, all animals were administered doxy for thirty-five days to induce expression of shRNAs, after which they were tested in the open field, rotarod and Morris water maze (MWM) to assess anxiety like behavior, motor coordination and spatial reference memory, respectively. Our results show that reducing tau in the adult hippocampus produces significant impairments in motor coordination, endurance and spatial memory. Tissue analyses shows that tau knockdown reduces hippocampal dendritic spine density and the levels of BDNF and synaptophysin, two proteins involved in memory formation and plasticity. Our approach circumvents the developmental compensation issues observed in Tau KO models and shows that reducing tau levels during adulthood impairs cognition.

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2018-05

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Removing Neuronal PRAS40 Exacerbates Alzheimer's Disease Pathology in a Mouse Model

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Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is characterized by the aberrant accumulation and aggregation of proteins that in turn contribute to learning and memory deficits. The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) plays an essential role in regulating the synthesis and degradation of proteins

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is characterized by the aberrant accumulation and aggregation of proteins that in turn contribute to learning and memory deficits. The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) plays an essential role in regulating the synthesis and degradation of proteins that contribute to cell growth and learning and memory. Hyperactivity of mTOR can cause detrimental effects to protein homeostasis and has been linked to AD. The proline-rich Akt-substrate 40 kDa (PRAS40) is a negative regulator of mTOR, as it binds to mTOR directly, reducing its activity. Upon phosphorylation, PRAS40 detaches from mTOR thereby releasing its inhibitory effects. Increased phosphorylation of PRAS40, and a subsequent increase in mTOR activity has been linked to diabetes, cancer, and other conditions; however, PRAS40’s direct role in the pathogenesis of AD is still unclear. To investigate the role of PRAS40 in AD pathology, we generated a PRAS40 conditional knockout mouse model and, using a neuronal-specific Cre recombinase, selectively removed PRAS40 from APP/PS1 mice. Removing neuronal PRAS40 exacerbated Abeta levels and plaque load but paradoxically had no significant effects on mTOR signaling. Mechanistically, the increase in Abeta pathology was linked to a decrease in autophagy function. Our data highlight a primary role of PRAS40 in the pathogenesis of AD.

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2019-05

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Deficits in Spatial Working Memory Depend on Age in a Novel Rat Model of Alzheimer's Disease

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There are currently no disease-modifying treatments to halt or attenuate the progression of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Transgenic rodent models have provided researchers the ability to recapitulate particular pathological and symptomological events in disease progression. Complete reproduction of all features of

There are currently no disease-modifying treatments to halt or attenuate the progression of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Transgenic rodent models have provided researchers the ability to recapitulate particular pathological and symptomological events in disease progression. Complete reproduction of all features of AD in a rodent model has not been achieved, potentially lending to the inconclusive treatment results at the clinical level. Recently, the TgF344-AD transgenic rat model has started to be evaluated; however, it has not been well characterized in terms of its cognition, which is fundamental to understanding the trajectory of aging relative to pathology and learning and memory changes. Therefore, the aim of the current study was to identify cognitive outcomes at 6, 9, and 12 months of age in the TgF344-AD rat model. Sixty female transgenic (Tg) and wildtype (WT) rats were tested on the water radial arm maze, Morris water maze, and visible platform task to evaluate cognition. Results from the asymptotic phase of the water radial arm maze showed that the 6 mo-Tg animals had marginally impaired working memory compared to 6 mo-WT rats, and 12 mo-Tg rats had significantly impaired working memory compared to 12 mo-WT rats. The 9 mo-Tg animals did not demonstrate a significant difference in working memory errors compared to the 9 mo-WT animals. This pattern of impairment, wherein Tg animals made more working memory errors compared to WT animals at the 6 and 12 month time points, but not at the 9 month time point, may be indicative of an inflammatory response that proves helpful at incipient stages of disease progression but eventually leads to further cognitive impairment. These results provide insight into the potential earliest time point that prodromal cognitive symptoms of AD exist, and how they progress with aging. Brain tissue was collected at sacrifice for future analyses of pathology, which will be used to glean insight into the temporal progression of pathological and cognitive outcomes.

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2020-05

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Cognitive efficacy of three bioidentical, endogenously circulating estrogens given as hormone therapy: Extending prior findings and navigating into unchartered territory

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Women are now living longer than ever before, yet the age of spontaneous menopause has remained stable. This results in an increasing realization of the need for an effective treatment of cognitive and physiological menopausal and post-menopausal symptoms. The most

Women are now living longer than ever before, yet the age of spontaneous menopause has remained stable. This results in an increasing realization of the need for an effective treatment of cognitive and physiological menopausal and post-menopausal symptoms. The most common estrogen component of hormone therapy, conjugated equine estrogens (CEE; Premarin) contains many estrogens that are not endogenous to the human body, and that may or may not be detrimental to cognition (Campbell and Whitehead, 1977; Engler-Chiurazzi et al., 2011; Acosta et al., 2010). We propose the use of a novel treatment option in the form of a naturally-circulating (bioidentical) estrogen called estriol. Due to estriol’s observed positive effects on synaptic functioning and neuroprotective effects in the hippocampus (Ziehn et al., 2012; Goodman et al., 1996), a brain structure important for spatial learning and memory, estriol is promising as a hormone therapy option that may attenuate menopausal- and age- related memory decline. In the current study, we administered one of the three bioidentical estrogens (17β-Estradiol, 4.0 µg/day; Estrone, 8.0 µg/day; Estriol, 8.0 µg/day) or the vehicle polyethylene glycol by subcutaneous osmotic pump to ovariectomized Fisher-344 rats. We compared these groups to each other using a battery of spatial learning tasks, including the water radial-arm maze (WRAM), Morris water maze (MM), and delayed-match-to-sample maze (DMS). We found that all estrogens impaired performance on the WRAM compared to vehicle, while 17β-estradiol administration improved overnight forgetting performance for the MM. The estriol group showed no cognitive enhancements relative to vehicle; however, there were several factors indicating that both our estriol and estradiol doses were too high, so future studies should investigate whether lower doses of estriol may be beneficial to cognition.

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2015-05

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The effects of age, hormone loss, and estrogen treatment on spatial cognition in the rat: parameters and putative mechanisms

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Cognitive function is multidimensional and complex, and research indicates that it is impacted by age, lifetime experience, and ovarian hormone milieu. One particular domain of cognitive function that is susceptible to age-related decrements is spatial memory. Cognitive practice can affect

Cognitive function is multidimensional and complex, and research indicates that it is impacted by age, lifetime experience, and ovarian hormone milieu. One particular domain of cognitive function that is susceptible to age-related decrements is spatial memory. Cognitive practice can affect spatial memory when aged in both males and females, and in females alone ovarian hormones have been found to alter spatial memory via modulating brain microstructure and function in many of the same brain areas affected by aging. The research in this dissertation has implications that promote an understanding of the effects of cognitive practice on aging memory, why males and females respond differently to cognitive practice, and the parameters and mechanisms underlying estrogen's effects on memory. This body of work suggests that cognitive practice can enhance memory when aged and that estrogen is a probable candidate facilitating the observed differences in the effects of cognitive practice depending on sex. This enhancement in cognitive practice effects via estrogen is supported by data demonstrating that estrogen enhances spatial memory and hippocampal synaptic plasticity. The estrogen-facilitated memory enhancements and alterations in hippocampal synaptic plasticity are at least partially facilitated via enhancements in cholinergic signaling from the basal forebrain. Finally, age, dose, and type of estrogen utilized are important factors to consider when evaluating estrogen's effects on memory and its underlying mechanisms, since age alters the responsiveness to estrogen treatment and the dose of estrogen needed, and small alterations in the molecular structure of estrogen can have a profound impact on estrogen's efficacy on memory. Collectively, this dissertation elucidates many parameters that dictate the outcome, and even the direction, of the effects that cognitive practice and estrogens have on cognition during aging. Indeed, many parameters including the ones described here are important considerations when designing future putative behavioral interventions, behavioral therapies, and hormone therapies. Ideally, the parameters described here will be used to help design the next generation of interventions, therapies, and nootropic agents that will allow individuals to maintain their cognitive capacity when aged, above and beyond what is currently possible, thus enacting lasting improvement in women's health and public health in general.

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2011

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Sublethal effects of heavy metal and metalloid exposure in honey bees: behavioral modifications and potential mechanisms

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Neurotoxicology has historically focused on substances that directly damage nervous tissue. Behavioral assays that test sensory, cognitive, or motor function are used to identify neurotoxins. But, the outcomes of behavioral assays may also be influenced by the physiological status of

Neurotoxicology has historically focused on substances that directly damage nervous tissue. Behavioral assays that test sensory, cognitive, or motor function are used to identify neurotoxins. But, the outcomes of behavioral assays may also be influenced by the physiological status of non-neural organs. Therefore, toxin induced damage to non- neural organs may contribute to behavioral modifications. Heavy metals and metalloids are persistent environmental pollutants and induce neurological deficits in multiple organisms. However, in the honey bee, an important insect pollinator, little is known about the sublethal effects of heavy metal and metalloid toxicity though they are exposed to these toxins chronically in some environments. In this thesis I investigate the sublethal effects of copper, cadmium, lead, and selenium on honey bee behavior and identify potential mechanisms mediating the behavioral modifications. I explore the honey bees’ ability to detect these toxins, their sensory perception of sucrose following toxin exposure, and the effects of toxin ingestion on performance during learning and memory tasks. The effects depend on the specific metal. Honey bees detect and reject copper containing solutions, but readily consume those contaminated with cadmium and lead. And, exposure to lead may alter the sensory perception of sucrose. I also demonstrate that acute selenium exposure impairs learning and long-term memory formation or recall. Localizing selenium accumulation following chronic exposure reveals that damage to non-neural organs and peripheral sensory structures is more likely than direct neurotoxicity. Probable mechanisms include gut microbiome alterations, gut lining

damage, immune system activation, impaired protein function, or aberrant DNA methylation. In the case of DNA methylation, I demonstrate that inhibiting DNA methylation dynamics can impair long-term memory formation, while the nurse-to- forager transition is not altered. These experiments could serve as the bases for and reference groups of studies testing the effects of metal or metalloid toxicity on DNA methylation. Each potential mechanism provides an avenue for investigating how neural function is influenced by the physiological status of non-neural organs. And from an ecological perspective, my results highlight the need for environmental policy to consider sublethal effects in determining safe environmental toxin loads for honey bees and other insect pollinators.

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2016