Presentation Title

Screening the effects of brain targeting compounds on sensory behavior and decision-making in C. elegans

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Gareth Harris

Start Date

23-11-2019 8:00 AM

End Date

23-11-2019 8:45 AM

Location

97

Session

poster 1

Type of Presentation

Poster

Subject Area

biological_agricultural_sciences

Abstract

Neuro-pharmacological agents and their actions have been an intensive area of research in relation to treatment of neurological disorders and understanding human behavior. Despite the use of a large number of therapeutics for targeting neurological mechanisms involved in behavioral control and behavioral responses associated with sensation, information processing, and decision-making, the understanding of the mechanisms underlying these processes and the exact targets of these pharmacological agents are still not clear. We use the invertebrate nematode, Caenorhabditis elegans, to investigate the effects of these various classes of brain targeting drugs on a multi-sensory behavior. This behavior assesses a worm’s ability to sense and process repulsive cues that promote food leaving. Our lab has previously identified a number of neurons and neuronally expressed genes required for worms to leave food during exposure to dangerous sensory cues. This provides a platform to investigate the neural circuits further and examine the effects of nervous system targeting pharmacological agents. We have used this behavioral assay to characterize the effects of various types of pharmacological compounds on the worm’s “brain”. Specifically, we have identified effects from the pharmacological application on this multi-sensory-dependent decision-making behavior. Caffeine and exogenous serotonin have no effect. In contrast, application of lithium to wild type worms speeds up food leaving during repulsive cue exposure. This provides a potential avenue for understanding targets in the nervous system for these neurological compounds such as lithium. This will ultimately provide insight into how brain-targeting compounds modulate brain chemistry to regulate sensory behavior and decision-making. With only 302 neurons, C. elegans share significant conservation with mammalian systems. This is beneficial because C. elegans already have their neuronal connectivity mapped, genomes sequenced, and mutants for most neuronally expressed genes available. This provides a potential avenue to identify effects of mammalian neurological compounds on cellular mechanisms and neural circuits that control decision-making behavior.

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Nov 23rd, 8:00 AM Nov 23rd, 8:45 AM

Screening the effects of brain targeting compounds on sensory behavior and decision-making in C. elegans

97

Neuro-pharmacological agents and their actions have been an intensive area of research in relation to treatment of neurological disorders and understanding human behavior. Despite the use of a large number of therapeutics for targeting neurological mechanisms involved in behavioral control and behavioral responses associated with sensation, information processing, and decision-making, the understanding of the mechanisms underlying these processes and the exact targets of these pharmacological agents are still not clear. We use the invertebrate nematode, Caenorhabditis elegans, to investigate the effects of these various classes of brain targeting drugs on a multi-sensory behavior. This behavior assesses a worm’s ability to sense and process repulsive cues that promote food leaving. Our lab has previously identified a number of neurons and neuronally expressed genes required for worms to leave food during exposure to dangerous sensory cues. This provides a platform to investigate the neural circuits further and examine the effects of nervous system targeting pharmacological agents. We have used this behavioral assay to characterize the effects of various types of pharmacological compounds on the worm’s “brain”. Specifically, we have identified effects from the pharmacological application on this multi-sensory-dependent decision-making behavior. Caffeine and exogenous serotonin have no effect. In contrast, application of lithium to wild type worms speeds up food leaving during repulsive cue exposure. This provides a potential avenue for understanding targets in the nervous system for these neurological compounds such as lithium. This will ultimately provide insight into how brain-targeting compounds modulate brain chemistry to regulate sensory behavior and decision-making. With only 302 neurons, C. elegans share significant conservation with mammalian systems. This is beneficial because C. elegans already have their neuronal connectivity mapped, genomes sequenced, and mutants for most neuronally expressed genes available. This provides a potential avenue to identify effects of mammalian neurological compounds on cellular mechanisms and neural circuits that control decision-making behavior.