Date of Award

Spring 5-16-2015

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

MS Experimental Psychology

Department

Psychology

Advisor

Michael Vigorito, Ph.D

Committee Member

Amy S. Joh, Ph.D

Committee Member

Amy Silvestri Hunter, Ph.D

Committee Member

Kelly Goedert, Ph.D

Keywords

schizophrenia, rat, lipopolysaccharides, neurodevelopmental, short-term memory, cognitive

Abstract

Schizophrenia is a debilitating disorder characterized by positive, negative, and cognitive symptoms. Cognitive deficits affect one’s learning and memory due to a dysfunction in the brain, inhibiting a normal functioning life. The self-medicating hypothesis states that ninety percent of people with schizophrenia smoke, because nicotine use improves these cognitive deficits. The cytokine hypothesis states that inflammation due to prenatal infection is associated with schizophrenia. These increased proinflamatory cytokines can damage the brains of the fetuses, which can cause schizophrenic-like symptoms in rats. The present study used Lipopolysaccharides to activate the cytokine-mediated inflammatory response injected into pregnant dams. A T-maze was used to measure short-term memory in rats. The goal of the present study was to test if rats with LPS-treated mothers had cognitive deficits mimicking schizophrenic-like symptoms, and if so, if nicotine could improve those cognitive deficits. The present study consisted of spontaneous alternation, alternation training, delayed alternation training, and nicotine treatment. The hypothesis could not be adequately tested in the present study because there was a small sample size of LPS-treated animals as a result of high rate of pregnancy loss. The LPS-treated animals did spontaneously alternate, but did not learn the other instrumental tasks and could therefore not be tested for short-term memory deficits. Short-term memory was utilized in the healthy control pups. The latencies across the alternation training days decreased across healthy control rats, they were successfully alternating, and performed above chance, indicating use of their short-term memory. On most tasks females performed significantly better than males did. Nicotine did not significantly improve performance, but it continued to stay above chance.

Share

COinS
 
 

To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.