Research Projects

Animal: Research Projects

The effects of microinfusions of an oxytocin antagonist and agonist into the nucleus accumbens shell on maternal memory.
To study the role of the nucleus accumbens shell in maternal memory, by blocking its function using an oxytocin antagonist /agonist and comparing the effects to animals treated with a vehicle. The benefits of conducting this study include obtaining a better understanding of the importance of the nucleus accumbens shell and its role in maternal memory, as well as identifying the physiological components in the brain involved in maternal memory.

The effects of prenatal stress , artificial rearing, and 5HTPP genotypes on GR receptors and HPA axis in the rat.
Perinatal stress has been cited as an etiological factor in a number of mental disorders, Stress responsiveness deficits and emotionality and hyperactivity are central to these disorders; however, the effects of perinatal stress on them are variable, with some animals showing little effect and others experiencing resilience. This study examines the effects of prenatal stress and postnatal maternal separation with artificial licking stimulation on GR in the hippocampus and on corticosterone levels before and after a stressor in the adult offspring in trats carrying different polymorphisms of the serotonin transporter gene.

Maternal gene expression in the amygdala and the medial preoptic area (MPOA) in post-partum and virgin female rats.
The purpose of this study is to understand the genetic basis of maternal behaviour. Maternal responsiveness and the genetic expression in virgins and post-partum female rats are studied to examine the role that genes and experience play in the expression of maternal behaviour. A benefit of this study is to identify the genes that may be responsible for induction, expression, and inhibition of naturally occurring maternal behaviours, as well as the interaction between these genes and the environment, in the context of maternal behaviour.

The effects of artificial rearing on impulsiveness and brain monoamines in rats.
Impulsiveness is maladaptive and a number of psychiatric and behavioural disorders are marked by impulsiveness. Evidence suggests that impulsiveness is dependent on intact prefrontal cortex functioning. This intact functioning seems to be dependent on prefrontal neurotransmitter systems, in particular, dopamine and serotonin. Little is known about how environmental factors, particularly early in life, influence functioning of the prefrontal cortex and its neurochemistry. The prefrontal cortex is the last structure to develop ontogenetically, making it more sensitive to environmental insults. Therefore, this large study would further our understanding of the relationship between early life factors, impulsiveness and neurochemistry.

The role of catecholamines in maternal behaviour: an in vivo study.
We hope to identify and study the role of key neurotransmitters and their properties of transmission in the brain area thought to be involved in motivation and the consolidation of maternal memory. This will be useful in better understanding the neurochemical processes that underly the construct of memory in mammalian species generally, and more specifically with respect to maternal care. Finally, this may give us insight to how these systems are affected by environmental conditions and an indication of their sensitivity and plasticity.