Neuro Across the Curriculum
Wayne Hawley made his way to Trinity to speak on the research that he has conducted thus far in his career. His interests, in regards to neuroendocrinology, revolve around the use of estradiol and G-1 as a treatment to enhance spatial recognition in ovariectomized rats.
Amidst a number of corny sex jokes related to his research, Hawley gave an insightful presentation that mixed his interests in neuroscience with a background in the psychology of psychosocial-sexual behaviors. The talk focused on the idea of spatial novelty, the idea that rats seek the opportunity to find novel areas in which they can nest, mate, and explore. The rats used in his experiment had been ovariectomized, meaning they were female rats that’d had their ovaries removed via a simple surgery. This rat type is often used when designing treatments and cures for diseases such as osteoporosis. The removal of the ovaries most notably results in the loss of production of estrogen.
The rats were given injections of estradiol 24 hours and 48 hours before they were placed in the Y-maze task. The rats were also split into two test groups, one group received 1ug of estradiol, while the second group received a 25ug injection of G-1. The results showed that after exploring the first arm of the maze in their first trial both test groups showed an improvement in their preference for the novel environment. Furthermore, the second test group, which which received 25ug of G-1, showed a greater preference for the novel environment.
The study also found that rats that had performance compromises, such as cholinergic function, that were treated in the same does as the experimental rats showed improvements in acetylcholine levels in the hippocampus when completing spatial memory tasks. This finding has implications in areas of neurodegenerative research such as Alzheimer’s disease, which is characterized by a lack of cholinergic function.