Matching Items (195)

149824-Thumbnail Image.png

Modeling acquisition of nicotine self-administration in rats

Description

Nicotine is thought to underlie the reinforcing and dependence-producing effects of tobacco-containing products. Nicotine supports self-administration in rodents, although measures of its reinforcing effects are often confounded by procedures that are used to facilitate acquisition, such as food restriction, prior

Nicotine is thought to underlie the reinforcing and dependence-producing effects of tobacco-containing products. Nicotine supports self-administration in rodents, although measures of its reinforcing effects are often confounded by procedures that are used to facilitate acquisition, such as food restriction, prior reinforcement training, or response-contingent co-delivery of a naturally reinforcing light. This study examined whether rats acquire nicotine self-administration in the absence of these facilitators. A new mathematical modeling procedure was used to define the criterion for acquisition and to determine dose-dependent differences in rate and asymptote levels of intake. Rats were trained across 20 daily 2-h sessions occurring 6 days/week in chambers equipped with active and inactive levers. Each active lever press resulted in nicotine reinforcement (0, 0.015, 0.03, 0.06 mg/kg, IV) and retraction of both levers for a 20-s time out, whereas inactive lever presses had no consequences. Acquisition was defined by the best fit of a logistic function (i.e., S-shaped) versus a constant function (i.e., flat line) for reinforcers obtained across sessions using a corrected Akaike information criterion (AICc) as a model selection tool. The results showed an inverted-U shaped function for dose in relation to the percentage of animals that acquired nicotine self-administration, with 46% acquiring at 0.015 mg/kg, 73% at 0.03 mg/kg, and 58% at 0.06 mg/kg. All saline rats failed to acquire as expected. For rats that acquired nicotine self-administration, multiple model comparisons demonstrated that the asymptote (highest number of reinforcers/session) and half learning point (h; session during which half the assymptote had been achieved) were justified as free parameters of the reinforcers/session function, indicating that these parameters vary with nicotine dose. Asymptote exhibited an inverted U-shaped function across doses and half learning point exhibited a negative relationship to dose (i.e., the higher the dose the fewer sessions to reach h). These findings suggest that some rats acquire nicotine self-administration without using procedures that confound measures of acquisition rate. Furthermore, the modeling approach provides a new way of defining acquisition of drug self-administration that takes advantage of using all data generated from individual subjects and is less arbitrary than some criteria that are currently used.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
2011

151707-Thumbnail Image.png

Neural plasticity in lower- and higher-level visual cortex processing

Description

Perceptual learning by means of coherent motion training paradigms has been shown to produce plasticity in lower and higher-level visual systems within the human occipital lobe both supra- and subliminally. However, efficiency of training methods that produce consolidation in the

Perceptual learning by means of coherent motion training paradigms has been shown to produce plasticity in lower and higher-level visual systems within the human occipital lobe both supra- and subliminally. However, efficiency of training methods that produce consolidation in the visual system via coherent motion has yet to be experimentally determined. Furthermore, the effects of coherent motion training on reading comprehension, in clinical and normal populations, are still nascent. In the present study, 20 participants were randomly assigned to one of four experimental conditions. Two conditions had a participation requirement of four days while two conditions required eight days of participation. These conditions were further divided into 500 or 1000 trials per day (4 x 500, 4 x 1000, 8 x 500, 8 x 1000). Additional pre-test and post-test days were used to attain timed pre- and post-tests on the Wide Range Achievement Test IV (WRAT IV) reading comprehension battery. Furthermore, a critical flicker fusion threshold (CFFT) score was taken on a macular pigment densitometer on the pre-test and post-test day. Participants showed significant improvement in CFFT levels, WRAT IV reading comprehension, and speed of completion between pre-test and post-test; however, degree of improvement did not vary as a function of training condition. An interaction between training condition and degree of improvement was evident in coherent dot motion contrast scores, with significant training plasticity occurring in the 4 x 1000 and 8 x 500 conditions.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
2013

152152-Thumbnail Image.png

Conveying controversial science: Sam Harris's "The Moral Landscape" and popular science communication

Description

The academic literature on science communication widely acknowledges a problem: science communication between experts and lay audiences is important, but it is not done well. General audience popular science books, however, carry a reputation for clear science communication and are

The academic literature on science communication widely acknowledges a problem: science communication between experts and lay audiences is important, but it is not done well. General audience popular science books, however, carry a reputation for clear science communication and are understudied in the academic literature. For this doctoral dissertation, I utilize Sam Harris's The Moral Landscape, a general audience science book on the particularly thorny topic of neuroscientific approaches to morality, as a case-study to explore the possibility of using general audience science books as models for science communication more broadly. I conduct a literary analysis of the text that delimits the scope of its project, its intended audience, and the domains of science to be communicated. I also identify seven literary aspects of the text: three positive aspects that facilitate clarity and four negative aspects that interfere with lay public engagement. I conclude that The Moral Landscape relies on an assumed knowledge base and intuitions of its audience that cannot reasonably be expected of lay audiences; therefore, it cannot properly be construed as popular science communication. It nevertheless contains normative lessons for the broader science project, both in literary aspects to be salvaged and literary aspects and concepts to consciously be avoided and combated. I note that The Moral Landscape's failings can also be taken as an indication that typical descriptions of science communication offer under-detailed taxonomies of both audiences for science communication and the varieties of science communication aimed at those audiences. Future directions of study include rethinking appropriate target audiences for science literacy projects and developing a more discriminating taxonomy of both science communication and lay publics.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
2013

152325-Thumbnail Image.png

Chronic stress and plasticity in the limbic system: implications for post traumatic stress disorder

Description

The brain is a fundamental target of the stress response that promotes adaptation and survival but the repeated activation of the stress response has the potential alter cognition, emotion, and motivation, key functions of the limbic system. Three structures of

The brain is a fundamental target of the stress response that promotes adaptation and survival but the repeated activation of the stress response has the potential alter cognition, emotion, and motivation, key functions of the limbic system. Three structures of the limbic system in particular, the hippocampus, medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), and amygdala, are of special interest due to documented structural changes and their implication in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). One of many notable chronic stress-induced changes include dendritic arbor restructuring, which reflect plasticity patterns in parallel with the direction of alterations observed in functional imaging studies in PTSD patients. For instance, chronic stress produces dendritic retraction in the hippocampus and mPFC, but dendritic hypertrophy in the amygdala, consistent with functional imaging in patients with PTSD. Some have hypothesized that these limbic region's modifications contribute to one's susceptibility to develop PTSD following a traumatic event. Consequently, we used a familiar chronic stress procedure in a rat model to create a vulnerable brain that might develop traits consistent with PTSD when presented with a challenge. In adult male rats, chronic stress by wire mesh restraint (6h/d/21d) was followed by a variety of behavioral tasks including radial arm water maze (RAWM), fear conditioning and extinction, and fear memory reconsolidation to determine chronic stress effects on behaviors mediated by these limbic structures. In chapter 2, we corroborated past findings that chronic stress caused hippocampal CA3 dendritic retraction. Importantly, we present new findings that CA3 dendritic retraction corresponded with poor spatial memory in the RAWM and that these outcomes reversed after a recovery period. In chapter 3, we also showed that chronic stress impaired mPFC-mediated extinction memory, findings that others have reported. Using carefully assessed behavior, we present new findings that chronic stress impacted nonassociative fear by enhancing contextual fear during extinction that generalized to a new context. Moreover, the generalization behavior corresponded with enhanced functional activation in the hippocampus and amygdala during fear extinction memory retrieval. In chapter 5, we showed for the first time that chronic stress enhanced amygdala functional activation during fear memory retrieval, i.e., reactivation. Moreover, these enhanced fear memories were resistant to protein synthesis interference to disrupt a previously formed memory, called reconsolidation in a novel attempt to weaken chronic stress enhanced traumatic memory. Collectively, these studies demonstrated the plastic and dynamic effects of chronic stress on limbic neurocircuitry implicated in PTSD. We showed that chronic stress created a structural and functional imbalance across the hippocampus, mPFC, and amygdala, which lead to a PTSD-like phenotype with persistent and exaggerated fear following fear conditioning. These behavioral disruptions in conjunction with morphological and functional imaging data reflect a chronic stress-induced imbalance between hippocampal and mPFC regulation in favor of amygdala function overdrive, and supports a novel approach for traumatic memory processing in PTSD.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
2013

152186-Thumbnail Image.png

Exploring developmental mechanisms and function of Drosophila motoneuron dendrites with targeted genetic manipulation of Dscam

Description

Specific dendritic morphologies are a hallmark of neuronal identity, circuit assembly, and behaviorally relevant function. Despite the importance of dendrites in brain health and disease, the functional consequences of dendritic shape remain largely unknown. This dissertation addresses two fundamental and

Specific dendritic morphologies are a hallmark of neuronal identity, circuit assembly, and behaviorally relevant function. Despite the importance of dendrites in brain health and disease, the functional consequences of dendritic shape remain largely unknown. This dissertation addresses two fundamental and interrelated aspects of dendrite neurobiology. First, by utilizing the genetic power of Drosophila melanogaster, these studies assess the developmental mechanisms underlying single neuron morphology, and subsequently investigate the functional and behavioral consequences resulting from developmental irregularity. Significant insights into the molecular mechanisms that contribute to dendrite development come from studies of Down syndrome cell adhesion molecule (Dscam). While these findings have been garnered primarily from sensory neurons whose arbors innervate a two-dimensional plane, it is likely that the principles apply in three-dimensional central neurons that provide the structural substrate for synaptic input and neural circuit formation. As such, this dissertation supports the hypothesis that neuron type impacts the realization of Dscam function. In fact, in Drosophila motoneurons, Dscam serves a previously unknown cell-autonomous function in dendrite growth. Dscam manipulations produced a range of dendritic phenotypes with alteration in branch number and length. Subsequent experiments exploited the dendritic alterations produced by Dscam manipulations in order to correlate dendritic structure with the suggested function of these neurons. These data indicate that basic motoneuron function and behavior are maintained even in the absence of all adult dendrites within the same neuron. By contrast, dendrites are required for adjusting motoneuron responses to specific challenging behavioral requirements. Here, I establish a direct link between dendritic structure and neuronal function at the level of the single cell, thus defining the structural substrates necessary for conferring various aspects of functional motor output. Taken together, information gathered from these studies can inform the quest in deciphering how complex cell morphologies and networks form and are precisely linked to their function.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
2013

Intracortical microstimulation of somatosensory cortex: functional encoding and localization of neuronal recruitment

Description

Intracortical microstimulation (ICMS) within somatosensory cortex can produce artificial sensations including touch, pressure, and vibration. There is significant interest in using ICMS to provide sensory feedback for a prosthetic limb. In such a system, information recorded from sensors on the

Intracortical microstimulation (ICMS) within somatosensory cortex can produce artificial sensations including touch, pressure, and vibration. There is significant interest in using ICMS to provide sensory feedback for a prosthetic limb. In such a system, information recorded from sensors on the prosthetic would be translated into electrical stimulation and delivered directly to the brain, providing feedback about features of objects in contact with the prosthetic. To achieve this goal, multiple simultaneous streams of information will need to be encoded by ICMS in a manner that produces robust, reliable, and discriminable sensations. The first segment of this work focuses on the discriminability of sensations elicited by ICMS within somatosensory cortex. Stimulation on multiple single electrodes and near-simultaneous stimulation across multiple electrodes, driven by a multimodal tactile sensor, were both used in these experiments. A SynTouch BioTac sensor was moved across a flat surface in several directions, and a subset of the sensor's electrode impedance channels were used to drive multichannel ICMS in the somatosensory cortex of a non-human primate. The animal performed a behavioral task during this stimulation to indicate the discriminability of sensations evoked by the electrical stimulation. The animal's responses to ICMS were somewhat inconsistent across experimental sessions but indicated that discriminable sensations were evoked by both single and multichannel ICMS. The factors that affect the discriminability of stimulation-induced sensations are not well understood, in part because the relationship between ICMS and the neural activity it induces is poorly defined. The second component of this work was to develop computational models that describe the populations of neurons likely to be activated by ICMS. Models of several neurons were constructed, and their responses to ICMS were calculated. A three-dimensional cortical model was constructed using these cell models and used to identify the populations of neurons likely to be recruited by ICMS. Stimulation activated neurons in a sparse and discontinuous fashion; additionally, the type, number, and location of neurons likely to be activated by stimulation varied with electrode depth.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
2013

152103-Thumbnail Image.png

Optimization of menopausal hormone therapies for cognitive and brain aging using a rat model

Description

Each year, millions of aging women will experience menopause, a transition from reproductive capability to reproductive senescence. In women, this transition is characterized by depleted ovarian follicles, declines in levels of sex hormones, and a dysregulation of gonadotrophin feedback loops.

Each year, millions of aging women will experience menopause, a transition from reproductive capability to reproductive senescence. In women, this transition is characterized by depleted ovarian follicles, declines in levels of sex hormones, and a dysregulation of gonadotrophin feedback loops. Consequently, menopause is accompanied by hot flashes, urogenital atrophy, cognitive decline, and other symptoms that reduce quality of life. To ameliorate these negative consequences, estrogen-containing hormone therapy is prescribed. Findings from clinical and pre-clinical research studies suggest that menopausal hormone therapies can benefit memory and associated neural substrates. However, findings are variable, with some studies reporting null or even detrimental cognitive and neurobiological effects of these therapies. Thus, at present, treatment options for optimal cognitive and brain health outcomes in menopausal women are limited. As such, elucidating factors that influence the cognitive and neurobiological effects of menopausal hormone therapy represents an important need relevant to every aging woman. To this end, work in this dissertation has supported the hypothesis that multiple factors, including post-treatment circulating estrogen levels, experimental handling, type of estrogen treatment, and estrogen receptor activity, can impact the realization of cognitive benefits with Premarin hormone therapy. We found that the dose-dependent working memory benefits of subcutaneous Premarin administration were potentially regulated by the ratios of circulating estrogens present following treatment (Chapter 2). When we administered Premarin orally, it impaired memory (Chapter 3). Follow-up studies revealed that this impairment was likely due to the handling associated with treatment administration and the task difficulty of the memory measurement used (Chapters 3 and 4). Further, we demonstrated that the unique cognitive impacts of estrogens that become increased in circulation following Premarin treatments, such as estrone (Chapter 5), and their interactions with the estrogen receptors (Chapter 6), may influence the realization of hormone therapy-induced cognitive benefits. Future directions include assessing the mnemonic effects of: 1) individual biologically relevant estrogens and 2) clinically-used bioidentical hormone therapy combinations of estrogens. Taken together, information gathered from these studies can inform the development of novel hormone therapies in which these parameters are optimized.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
2013

152445-Thumbnail Image.png

Evaluating and controlling glioblastoma infiltration

Description

Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most common primary brain tumor with an incidence of approximately 11,000 Americans. Despite decades of research, average survival for GBM patients is a modest 15 months. Increasing the extent of GBM resection increases patient survival. However,

Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most common primary brain tumor with an incidence of approximately 11,000 Americans. Despite decades of research, average survival for GBM patients is a modest 15 months. Increasing the extent of GBM resection increases patient survival. However, extending neurosurgical margins also threatens the removal of eloquent brain. For this reason, the infiltrative nature of GBM is an obstacle to its complete resection. We hypothesize that targeting genes and proteins that regulate GBM motility, and developing techniques that safely enhance extent of surgical resection, will improve GBM patient survival by decreasing infiltration into eloquent brain regions and enhancing tumor cytoreduction during surgery. Chapter 2 of this dissertation describes a gene and protein we identified; aquaporin-1 (aqp1) that enhances infiltration of GBM. In chapter 3, we describe a method for enhancing the diagnostic yield of GBM patient biopsies which will assist in identifying future molecular targets for GBM therapies. In chapter 4 we develop an intraoperative optical imaging technique that will assist identifying GBM and its infiltrative margins during surgical resection. The topic of this dissertation aims to target glioblastoma infiltration from molecular and cellular biology and neurosurgical disciplines. In the introduction we; 1. Provide a background of GBM and current therapies. 2. Discuss a protein we found that decreases GBM survival. 3. Describe an imaging modality we utilized for improving the quality of accrued patient GBM samples. 4. We provide an overview of intraoperative contrast agents available for neurosurgical resection of GBM, and discuss a new agent we studied for intraoperative visualization of GBM.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
2014

151807-Thumbnail Image.png

The effects of maternal separation on adult methamphetamine self-administration: extinction, reinstatement, and MeCP2 immunoreactivity in the nucleus accumbens

Description

The maternal separation (MS) paradigm is an animal model of early life stress. Animals subjected to MS during the first two weeks of life display altered behavioral and neuroendocrinological stress responses as adults. MS also produces altered responsiveness to and

The maternal separation (MS) paradigm is an animal model of early life stress. Animals subjected to MS during the first two weeks of life display altered behavioral and neuroendocrinological stress responses as adults. MS also produces altered responsiveness to and self-administration (SA) of various drugs of abuse including cocaine, ethanol, opioids, and amphetamine. Methamphetamine (METH) causes great harm to both the individual user and to society; yet, no studies have examined the effects of MS on METH SA. This study was performed to examine the effects of MS on the acquisition of METH SA, extinction, and reinstatement of METH-seeking behavior in adulthood. Given the known influence of early life stress and drug exposure on epigenetic processes, group differences in levels of the epigenetic marker methyl CpG binding protein 2 (MeCP2) in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) core were also investigated. Long-Evans pups and dams were separated on postnatal days (PND) 2-14 for either 180 (MS180) or 15 min (MS15). Male offspring were allowed to acquire METH SA (0.05 mg/kg/infusion) in 15 2-hr daily sessions starting at PND67, followed by extinction training and cue-induced reinstatement of METH-seeking behavior. Rats were then assessed for MeCP2 levels in the NAc core by immunohistochemistry. The MS180 group self-administered significantly more METH and acquired SA earlier than the MS15 group. No group differences in extinction or cue-induced reinstatement were observed. MS15 rats had significantly elevated MeCP2-immunoreactive cells in the NAc core as compared to MS180 rats. Together, these data suggest that MS has lasting influences on METH SA as well as epigenetic processes in the brain reward circuitry.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
2013

152286-Thumbnail Image.png

Hippocampal BDNF mediates recovery from chronic stress-induced spatial reference memory deficits

Description

Chronic restraint stress impairs hippocampal-mediated spatial learning and memory, which improves following a post-stress recovery period. Here, we investigated whether brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein important for hippocampal function, would alter the recovery from chronic stress-induced spatial memory

Chronic restraint stress impairs hippocampal-mediated spatial learning and memory, which improves following a post-stress recovery period. Here, we investigated whether brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein important for hippocampal function, would alter the recovery from chronic stress-induced spatial memory deficits. Adult male Sprague-Dawley rats were infused into the hippocampus with adeno- associated viral vectors containing the coding sequence for short interfering (si)RNA directed against BDNF or a scrambled sequence (Scr), with both containing the coding information for green fluorescent protein to aid in anatomical localization. Rats were then chronically restrained (wire mesh, 6h/d/21d) and assessed for spatial learning and memory using a radial arm water maze (RAWM) either immediately after stressor cessation (Str-Imm) or following a 21-day post-stress recovery period (Str-Rec). All groups learned the RAWM task similarly, but differed on the memory retention trial. Rats in the Str-Imm group, regardless of viral vector contents, committed more errors in the spatial reference memory domain than did non-stressed controls. Importantly, the typical improvement in spatial memory following recovery from chronic stress was blocked with the siRNA against BDNF, as Str-Rec-siRNA performed worse on the RAWM compared to the non-stressed controls or Str-Rec-Scr. These effects were specific for the reference memory domain as repeated entry errors that reflect spatial working memory were unaffected by stress condition or viral vector contents. These results demonstrate that hippocampal BDNF is necessary for the recovery from stress-induced hippocampal dependent spatial memory deficits in the reference memory domain.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
2013