Project: Research project

Grant Details


This research program is directed towards an understanding of the
electrophysiological, neurochemical and behavioral correlates of the
decline in spatial cognition and memory with age. The ultimate goal is the
development of preventative or ameliorative treatments for this decline in
mental health. The investigations focus on aging of the rodent hippocampal
system, including its intrinsic connections and information processing
neural structures make to cognitive changes that occur in old age. There
are three main experimental questions addressed in this proposal, and five
aims for professional growth. The first experimental question concerns the degree to which the age-
related loss of spatial selectivity in hippocampal unit activity that we
have found might be accounted for by disruption in information processing
characteristics of its cortical afferents, and what the consequence of this
loss might be for information processing at neural levels receiving
hippocampal output. This problem will be addressed using a new techniques
developed in this laboratory (the stereotrode) that enables the
simultaneous recording from several single neurons in conscious animals
moving freely in a spatially extended environment. The second major
question is whether information storage throughout the lifespan results in
a significant rearrangement int he statistical distribution of connection
strengths in old neurons, which might account for the restriction in the
range of behavioral adaptability of older animals. The answer to this
question requires the analysis of cellular interactions at the level of
single neurons rather than the population techniques as employed in
previous studies. The third major experimental question concerns the
possibility that modulatory influences in the hippocampus from subcortical
afferent systems change with age, and contribute to the observed cognitive
deficits. This question will be addressed using local electrical and
chemical excitation or reversible chemical inactivation of discrete
subcortical projection nuclei in conscious young and old animals.
Effective start/end date9/1/908/31/94


  • National Institutes of Health: $77,047.00


  • Medicine(all)


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