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Analysis of Motor Behavior in Mice Reveals an Interaction Between Stress and Familial Alzheimer’s Disease

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    Cheasequah Blevins
    Detailed analysis of behavior can provide valuable information on the underlying neural machinery supporting learning. Recent experimental advances have made it possible to combine targeted neural manipulations with analysis of high-speed videography. In this talk, I discuss results from a series of behavioral studies in Alzheimer's Disease (AD) model mice aimed at understanding how stress interacts with Alzheimer's Disease susceptibility to affect learning and memory. I implemented an eyelid classical conditioning paradigm in mice to probe learning in two different AD models, triple-transgenic (having three different AD-related mutations) and single-transgenic (having only one AD-related mutation). Unexpectedly, triple-transgenic mutants displayed more rapid learning and altered features during conditioning compared to controls at all ages tested. On the other hand, aged mice harboring a single mutation learned the task poorly compared to littermate controls, as would be expected from a model of Alzheimer's Disease. Enhanced conditioning relative to controls was only observed in single-mutant mice after the animals underwent a period of prolonged stress. These results support the existence of two distinct but interacting phenotypes: one that is related to heightened stress response and one that is related to learning impairment.

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