Meeting Abstract

P1.12  Saturday, Jan. 4 15:30  An Integrative Neuromolecular and Neurophysiological Curriculum for the Neural Systems & Behavior Course at MBL HARRIS, R/M*; ALARCON, J/M; FENTON, A/A; HOFMANN, H/A; Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole; Univ. of Texas, Austin; Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole; SUNY-DMC, Brooklyn; Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole; New York Univ., New York; Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole; Univ. of Texas, Austin rayna.harris@utexas.edu

Neuroethology increasingly benefits from integrating across levels of organization to gain insights into the neural basis of behavior. The Neural Systems & Behavior (NS&B) course at MBL has established itself as the premier discovery-driven advanced training opportunity. We aimed to enhance and expand the existing excellence in neurophysiological training by incorporating stimulating and robust molecular and genomic approaches. Our innovations exposed students to a full range of modern techniques they can use to develop, design, and conduct integrative and cross-disciplinary studies which they used to examined the neuromolecular circuitry underlying coordinated movements in the stomatogastric ganglion and reproductive behavior of the medicinal leech. In order to develop a new integrative module, we used an active place avoidance to examine spatial memory in mice. We then used in vitro brain slice recordings to investigate potential changes in synaptic plasticity in the hippocampus. Using alternate slices, we obtained tissue punches of CA1 and CA3 regions to perform real-time PCR to detect changes in gene expression levels of key proteins whose activity is thought to underline functional changes in synapses subservient of memory. We used multivariate statistical analyses to integrate across all three levels of analysis to gain detailed insight into the mechanisms regulating memory formation. The approach yielded novel insights into the molecular and physiological mechanisms regulating learning and memory. Our results show that cutting-edge analyses can be integrated in the NS&B course setting.