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- ItemMaking context memories independent of the hippocampus(Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, 2009) Lehmann, Hugo; Sparks, Fraser T.; Spanswick, Simon C.; Hadikin, Crystal; McDonald, Robert J.; Sutherland, Robert J.We present evidence that certain learning parameters can make a memory, even a very recent one, become independent of the hippocampus. We confirm earlier findings that damage to the hippocampus causes severe retrograde amnesia for context memories, but we show that repeated learning sessions create a context memory that is not vulnerable to the damage. The findings demonstrate that memories normally dependent on the hippocampus are incrementally strengthened in other memory networks with additional learning. The latter provides a new account for patterns of hippocampal retrograde amnesia and how memories may become independent of the hippocampus.
- ItemEarly-onset convulsive seizures induced by brain hypoxia-ischemia in aging mice: effects of anticonvulsive treatments(Public Library of Science, 2015) Wang, Justin; Wu, Chiping; Peng, Jessie; Patel, Nisarg; Huang, Yayi; Gao, Xiaoxing; Aljarallah, Salman; Eubanks, James H.; McDonald, Robert J.; Zhang, LiangAging is associated with an increased risk of seizures/epilepsy. Stroke(ischemic or hemorrhagic) and cardiac arrest related brain injury are two major causative factors for seizure development in this patient population. With either etiology, seizures area poor prognostic factor. In spite of this, the underlying pathophysiology of seizure development is not well understood. In addition, a standardized treatment regimen with anticonvulsants and outcome assessments following treatment has yet to be established for these post-ischemic seizures. Previous studies have modeled post-ischemic seizures in adult rodents, but similar studies in aging/aged animals, a group that mirrors a higher risk elderly population, remain sparse. Our study therefore aimed to investigate early-onset seizures in aging animals using a hypoxia-ischemia (HI) model. Male C57 black mice18-20-month-old underwent a unilateral occlusion of the common carotid artery followed by a systemic hypoxic episode (8% O2 for 30 min). Early-onset seizures were detected using combined behavioral and electroencephalographic (EEG) monitoring. Brain injury was assessed histologically at different times post HI. Convulsive seizures were observed in 65% of aging mice post-HI but not in control aging mice following either sham surgery or hypoxiaalone. These seizures typically occurred within hours of HI and behaviorally consisted of jumping, fast running, barrel-rolling, and/or falling (loss of the righting reflex) with limb spasms. No evident discharges during any convulsive seizures were seen on cortical-hippocampal EEG recordings. Seizure development was closely associated with acute mortality and severe brain injury on brain histological analysis. Intra-peritoneal injections of lorazepam and fosphenytoin suppressed seizures and improved survival but only when applied prior to seizure onset and not after. These findings together suggest that seizures are a major contributing factor to acute mortality in aging mice following severe brain ischemia and that early anticonvulsive treatment may prevent seizure genesis and improve overall outcomes.
- ItemBarriers to developing a valid rodent model of Alzheimer's disease: from behavioral analysis to etiological mechanisms(Frontiers Media, 2015) Gidyk, Darryl C.; Deibel, Scott H.; Hong, Nancy S.; McDonald, Robert J.Sporadic Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most prevalent form of age-related dementia. As such, great effort has been put forth to investigate the etiology, progression, and underlying mechanisms of the disease. Countless studies have been conducted, however, the details of this disease remain largely unknown. Rodent models provide opportunities to investigate certain aspects of AD that cannot be studied in humans. These animal models vary from study to study and have provided some insight, but no real advancements in the prevention or treatment of the disease. In this Hypothesis and Theory paper, we discuss what we perceive as barriers to impactful discovery in rodent AD research and we offer potential solutions for moving forward. Although no single model of AD is capable of providing the solution to the growing epidemic of the disease, we encourage a comprehensive approach that acknowledges the complex etiology of AD with the goal of enhancing the bidirectional translatability from bench to bedside and vice versa.
- ItemContext, emotion, and the strategic pursuit of goals: interactions among multiple brain systems controlling motivated behavior(Frontiers Media, 2012) Gruber, Aaron J.; McDonald, Robert J.Motivated behavior exhibits properties that change with experience and partially dissociate among a number of brain structures. Here, we review evidence from rodent experiments demonstrating that multiple brain systems acquire information in parallel and either cooperate or compete for behavioral control. We propose a conceptual model of systems interaction wherein a ventral emotional memory network involving ventral striatum (VS), amygdala, ventral hippocampus, and ventromedial prefrontal cortex triages behavioral responding to stimuli according to their associated affective outcomes. This system engages autonomic and postural responding (avoiding, ignoring, approaching) in accordance with associated stimulus valence (negative, neutral, positive), but does not engage particular operant responses. Rather, this emotional system suppresses or invigorates actions that are selected through competition between goal-directed control involving dorsomedial striatum (DMS) and habitual control involving dorsolateral striatum (DLS). The hippocampus provides contextual speciﬁcityto the emotional system, and provides an information rich input to the goal-directed system for navigation and discriminations involving ambiguous contexts, complex sensory conﬁgurations, or temporal ordering. The rapid acquisition and high capacity for episodic associations in the emotional system may unburden the more complex goal-directed system and reduce interference in the habit system from processing contingencies of neutral stimuli. Interactions among these systems likely involve inhibitory mechanisms and neuromodulation in the striatum to form a dominant response strategy. Innate traits, training methods, and task demands contribute to the nature of these interactions, which can include incidental learning in non-dominant systems. Addition of these features to reinforcement learning models of decision-makingmay better aligntheoretical predictions with behavioral and neural correlates in animals.