Learning and Memory Enhancement by Neuropeptides
Annual letter rept. 1 Jul 1986-30 Jun 1987
MINNESOTA UNIV MINNEAPOLIS DEPT OF PHARMACOLOGY
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The major purpose of this work, is to study mechanisms responsible for the toxic effects of the organometal neurotoxin trimethyltin TMT on learning, in order to develop strategies for prevention or alleviation of toxicity. Trialkyltins are used as stabilizers for plastics, or as biocides for control of fungus, barnacles, bacteria and insects. Their toxic effects have been known for over 100 years. However, the specific neurotoxic effects of TMT were first observed after accidental exposure of two French chemical workers who experienced memory loss and seizures. Since then, numerous investigations in rodents have confirmed that TMT, administered systemically, produces a relatively specific lesion in hippocampus and related olfactory cortical structures. These lesions are associated with impairments in learning and memory as measured in a wide variety of tasks. Thus, as well as being an environmental anti-fouling toxicant of specific interest to the Navy, the compound may also be of interest as a model treatment for study of learningmemory dysfunction resulting from exposure to other toxicants e.g. other heavy metals, organic solvents or arising from disease states. We study learning in an autoshaping task, in which rats learn to touch a lever to obtain food.