Neuroscience At Scholarship Sewanee

Lauren Joca ’13 and Jessica Siegel, Assistant Professor.  The Effects Of Adolescent Methamphetamine Exposure On Behavior and Cognition In Late Adolescent and Adult Mice.  This poster received both the Speaker's Choice Award and First Place for Best Poster in Behavioral and Social Sciences.

  • Methamphetamine (MA) has neurotoxic effects on the adult human brain that can lead to deficits in behavior and cognition. The rising rates of adolescent MA use make it imperative that we understand the long-term effects of MA exposure on the adolescent brain and how these effects may differ from those seen in adults. Adolescents in treatment for MA abuse show higher levels of depression and suicide ideation compared to those being treated for other substances, with female MA users showing more severe symptoms than males. However, relatively little research has examined the effects of MA on adolescent cognition. This research examined the long-term effects of MA exposure during early adolescence on cognition and behavior in late adolescence and adulthood in male and female C57BL/6J mice. The effects of early adolescent MA exposure were examined in the open field, novel object recognition, Porsolt forced swim test, social interaction, and the Morris water maze test. There was a trend for MA to reduce anxiety-like behavior in the open field test in adult mice. MA also decreased novel object memory in late adolescent male mice. MA increased depression-like behavior in the Porsolt forced swim test in male and female mice of both ages, suggesting a robust and long-lasting effect of MA on depression-like behavior. No effects of MA were found in the social interaction or Morris water maze test. Overall the results suggest that, similar to human adolescent MA users, adolescent mice exposed to MA show increased depression-like behavior later in life. Current studies are ongoing to assess potential MA-induced changes the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis.

Shelby Bartlett ’12, Lauren Joca ’13, Caitlin Sneeden ’13, Carly Warfield ’12, and Jessica Siegel, Assistant Professor of Psychology. Simulating the college student lifestyle: The Effects Of A High-fat Diet And Ethanol Exposure On Cognition And Behavior In A Mouse Model.

  • Society often worries about the unhealthy college student lifestyle, which is associated with a high-fat diet and alcohol consumption. In this study, we attempted to model a college student lifestyle in mice. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of a high-fat diet and ethanol exposure on the cognition and behavior of 20 adult female mice. We used the Porsalt force swim test (FST), open field test, and novel object recognition test to measure depression, anxiety & locomotion, and memory, respectively. Results from the forced swim test suggest that ethanol exposure leads to more depressive-like behavior in rodents. Data from the FST demonstrate a trend; ethanol-injected mice spent more time floating compared to saline- injected mice. Also, our results indicate a relationship between diet and locomotion; mice fed a high-fat diet moved significantly further in the open field test compared to mice fed a normal diet. In conclusion, it appears high alcohol consumption can increase the risk for depression-like behavior in mice; these findings correspond to the current high rates of student depression seen on college campuses.

This research was published by a different group of students.  To see more, click here.

Scholarship Sewanee is made possible by Walter and Mayna Nance, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Undergraduate Research Advisory Committee, The Office of the Dean of the College, Physical Plant Services, Denise Davis, and Print Services.