The objective of this project is to develop an approach that can connect behavior with molecular and cellular events.
This aim i s significant because science cannot expect to grasp a phenomena as complicated as behavior without investigating it with different disciplines. The immediate goal of this project is to characterize the role of a cell adhesion molecule in the process of memory storage. These efforts will help provide a description of the fundamental principles of memory. This description has widespread applications to human health since human memory is effected by numerous disorders, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. This project intends to investigate the role of the cell adhesion molecule NCAM in the consolidation of conditional fear memory. This plan assumes that NCAM uses its adhesive properties to participate in memory storage, and that NCAM's role in memory can thereby be disrupted with antibodies that cling to it. In short, antibodies directed against NCAM will be infused into a rat's brain (hippocampus and amygdala) after it has been trained with the Pavlovian fear conditioning task. Days later, the animal's memory for this task will be assessed to determine if the antibody manipulation effects memory. This procedure will involve surgically implanting cannula into a rats brain, and infusing antibodies at various post training intervals to determine if and when NCAM is involved with memory storage. Also, an immunohistochemical survey of the amygdala will also be performed to determine the expression pattern of NCAM in that structure. Finally, to further describe NCAM's role in memory, the long term memory of a transgenic mouse that lacks two critical isoforms of NCAM will be characterized.