Rats, Drugs, and a whole lot of PB

Hello I am Josh Rubinstein and I am working in Dr. Siviy’s lab this summer! His research focuses on play behavior in rats and more specifically why a specific strain of rats (F344 better known as Fisher rats) play less than other strains of rats.

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So far we’ve done quite a lot and still have a lot more planned. The first experiment we did was to use different concentrations of a drug that inhibits the alpha-2 norepinephrine receptors in neurons in order to create a dose response curve and to observe the effect of different doses on the play behavior of the F344 rats. With the dose response curve we will chose a concentration to use in conjunction with amphetamine in an upcoming experiment. Amphetamine releases both dopamine and norepinephrine so with a norepinephrine receptor inhibitor we can examine the effects of released dopamine on play behavior.

In addition to this we also got in pregnant mother rats that gave birth just a couple weeks ago.

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For about 10 days Rose, Mary, and I all observed the mothers with their young by recording the kinds of nursing they were doing as well as if they were licking and grooming them and every morning we handled the rats which means that we took the pups out of some of the cages away from their mothers for about 15 minutes. This is to encourage the mothers to lick and groom them more. The more a pup gets licked and groom by their mother the less anxious they will be later in life. We also examined strain differences because we have F344, Sprague Dawley, and Lewis rats. Both the F344 and the Lewis rats are inbred strains from the Sprague Dawley strain.

Throughout the summer we have all been performing immunohistochemistry on the brain slices that we have. This involves a number of steps including subjecting the slices to phosphate buffer (PB) washes and attaching antibodies to a specific compound that we are looking for. This allows us to label specific neurons (oxytocin neurons in the hypothalamus for example). The picture below is actually a slice of the hippocampus!

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I have had an amazing time so far and am excited to do even more this summer!

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