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Learning of a Food Location Task in Pigeons (Columba livia) and immunoreaction for Zenk protein and synapsin I in the hippocampus: Effects of GABAB receptor antagonist, Phaclofen.

Grant number: 10/01693-1
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): August 01, 2010
Effective date (End): July 31, 2013
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Psychology - Physiological Psychology
Principal researcher:Elenice Aparecida de Moraes Ferrari
Grantee:Fernando Canova
Home Institution: Instituto de Biologia (IB). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Campinas , SP, Brazil


The hippocampus and related structures to the hippocampal formation, play a fundamental role in processes of learning and spatial memory. The spatial memory has important value for the organism's survival, because it is related to their ability to acquire and use environment information, enabling the formation of cognitive and spatial maps. The experience with the environment triggers behavioral, cellular and molecular changes in central nervous system that allow the formation and the consolidation of spatial memory. Therefore, acquisition, consolidation and stability of spatial memory involve plastic changes in the hippocampus of rodents and birds, among these the induction of the expression of early gene transcription such as zenk gene which regulates the expression of numerous other genes and the proteins they control. The gene zenk that acts in the formation of new memories and has a role in regulating the expression synapsin protein. The expression of sinapsins also seems to be related to synaptic mechanisms mediated by GABAB. This study aims to evaluate, in pigeons, consolidation and reconsolidation of learning on spatial memory in choice situation food. The underlying neural plasticity will be investigated by analysis of Zenk immunoreactivity for proteins and synapsin in neurons hippocampus of pigeons . Adult, male pigeons (Columba livia) will be used in two experiments. Experiment 1 will investigate learning and spatial memory during training of short duration ( 2 sessions ) or long term (7 sessions ) in a situation of food choice . Each session was conducted in a circular arena with 4 feeders, have 6 experimental trials, the animal being released at different points on each trial. Will be recorded the latency between placing the animal in the arena and a feeder pecking response (response of choice). In the test space strategy, the animals are placed in circular arena without feeders for analysis of time spent in quadrant where once existed the feeder with food. Experiment II will assess the effects of a GABA B receptor antagonist, Phaclofen on the consolidation of spatial memory. Groups of pigeons treated with Phaclofen or vehicle will be submitted to the training of food choice during 7 sessions. Immunohistochemistry of hippocampal tissue will be used for the analysis of expression of Zenk and Synapsin proteins. Statistical analyzes The data of latency of choice and density cells immunoreactive for Zenk and synapsin proteins will be conducted with ANOVA analysis with post hoc multiple comparisons when necessary.

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