The Behavioral Testing Core (BTC) Facility is a valuable resource for the UCLA scientific community. The UCLA Brain Research Institute membership consists of over 300 faculty members from 26 academic departments. The BTC provides the space, equipment, and instruction necessary for the behavioral testing needs of UCLA researchers. The type of assistance provided by the BTC enables behavioral testing for the researchers that cannot form collaborations with one of the few labs on campus that specialize in behavioral research. The BTC is requesting one-time equipment funding to greatly improve the fear conditioning setup which is widely used to study learning and memory mechanisms, drug and gene effects on fear and anxiety. The current BTC fear conditioning equipment requires replacement. The Med Associates equipment currently in use is outdated and unreliable. The automated scoring programs are first-generation """"""""home-made"""""""" systems that do not have the power, flexibility and accuracy of state-of- the-art systems. In order to ensure that researchers get usable results, the BTC would like to provide better equipment for this task. The requested funds would be used to replace the ineffective equipment with state of-the -art instrument from Med Associates, the most-cited manufacturer of fear equipment. Their new Video Freeze software is highly reliable for automated freezing studies. It is the only system that was developed with validation of an expert in fear conditioning (Dr.Stephan Anagnostaras, UCSD). The requested funds cover 12 fear conditioning setups (boxes), controlling software, and computer. Crucial for research in fear extinction is the use of more than 2 contexts to understand how fear can be renewed, re-instated and spontaneously recovered following extinction. These boxes have interchangeable parts that allow the formation of multiple contexts and testing for both rats and mice. In addition, we plan to use 6 of these boxes within the mouse housing room suite to cut the quarantine time (normally 6- 8 weeks) of animals bred off-site (e.g., knock-out mice from a collaborator). This would enable PIs to conduct experiments that are time sensitive (e.g., age and time-dependent gene expression studies). This approach will also allow PI's to cut costs on animal per diems from a prolonged quarantine period. This plan has been developed in conjunction with campus veterinarian Dr.Marcelo Couto and the UCLA Division of Laboratory animals and Medicine.
Fear conditioning is a robust model of fear and anxiety in rats and mice. The use of such a model will allow for a more defined understanding of the neural, genetic, behavioral components underlying human anxiety disorders. Such knowledge would allow for the developments of better treatments.
|Zelikowsky, Moriel; Hast, Timothy A; Bennett, Rebecca Z et al. (2013) Cholinergic blockade frees fear extinction from its contextual dependency. Biol Psychiatry 73:345-52|