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Psychological Science
Project Proposal

Development of a chemogenetic system (DREADDs) for manipulating a fear memory trace.

Hadley Bergstrom (Psychological Science)

In the field of neuroscience, the development of new techniques for neuronal circuit and signal manipulation is required for unraveling complex causal relationships between brain and behavior. Classically, brain manipulations have been accomplished using a variety of lesioning and pharmacological methods. However, as recent as 2010, advances in synthetic biology technologies have led to the development of new tools for manipulating the brain with a much higher level of sophistication and precision. Designer Receptor Exclusively Activated by Designer Drugs (DREADDs)-based chemogenetic tools are one such technological advance that has been rapidly incorporated into the field of neuroscience with a great deal of success. This URSI project seeks to develop a DREADDs system for the brain circuit-specific manipulation of fear memory retrieval. A viral vector encoding a designer G-protein-coupled receptor will be incorporated into the brain and a synthetic small molecule ligand (clozapine N-oxide) will be systemically administered during behavioral testing. It is anticipated that this DREADDs system will be leveraged across a variety a behavioral neuroscience experiments at Vassar College. For a primer see Roth BL (2016) "DREADDs for Neuroscientists."

Pre-requisites: PSYC 241, BIOL 106

How should students express their interest in this project? Please email a statement of interest.