Seminars & Events
Friday, October 4, 2013: Dr. Laurie Ryan, SMCM '86 (National Institute on Aging) will speak on "Alzheimer's Disease: Targets and Treatments" at 3:00 pm in Goodpaster Hall 195.
Monday, October 21, 2013: Dr. Greg Elmer (University of Maryland Baltimore) will speak on "Domains and Constructs in Motivation: Where Does the Habenula Fit In?" at 4:45 pm in Goodpaster Hall 195.
Friday, October 25, 2013: Dr. Terry Davidson (American University) will speak on "Why We Overeat and Become Obese? It Could be What We Think!" at 3:00 pm in Goodpaster Hall 195.
Dr. Gwen Calhoon '06 recently received her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of Maryland Baltimore, and was inducted into Nu Rho Psi.
Piantadosi, Sean (2010). Examining the Effect of Voluntary Exercise on Spatial Memory, Fear Conditioning and BDNF Levels in the Hippocampus of Male and Female Rats. Mentor: Dr. Anne Marie Brady
In aging humans, voluntary exercise has been shown to improve cognition, increase brain and hippocampus volume, and raise levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Sex differences in the effect of exercise have also been found, with females performing significantly better than males on cognitive tasks. Animal studies have replicated and expanded these human findings, with one notable exception: The effect of exercise in both male and female rats has not yet been studied. Existing literature suggests that the circulating hormone estrogen interacts with exercise, and that there are non-learning and memory associated differences between males and females following voluntary exercise. Other areas of research, such as chronic stress, have found stable sex differences in both the brain and behavior. Taken together, an argument for the possibility that exercise has sexually dimorphic effects can be made. The present study investigated whether 4 weeks of voluntary wheel running affected spatial memory, fear conditioning and hippocampal BDNF levels differently in male and female rats. Results showed that performance on an object placement task of spatial memory improved following exercise in both males and females. However, in males, both auditory and contextual fear conditioning were impaired following exercise, while female performance did not change. No changes in hippocampal BDNF were observed following exercise. Possible confounds, limitations, and suggestions for future research are discussed.