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GABA cell characterization in the Ventral Tegmental Area

Year: 2023

Presenter Name: Kaj Anderson

Additional Presenters:
Derek Fairbanks (
91,799 Americans died from a drug overdose in 2020 - an increase of 21,000 deaths compared to the previous year. With overdose numbers climbing, it is imperative to invest resources into the study of addiction. Addictions are mediated by the ventral tegmental area (VTA) of the brain. It is composed of primarily dopamine neurons and Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) neurons. When a drug is taken, the connections between neurons in the VTA are either strengthened through long-term potentiation (LTP) or weakened through long-term depression (LTD). While dopamine neurons have been extensively studied, GABA neurons in the VTA have been neglected. It has recently been discovered that some disinhibitory GABA neurons cause LTD when fired, while others cause LTP. In order to see if there is a genetic difference between these two populations, GABA cells that synapse with other GABA cells will be isolated from the VTA of a mouse brain, and then characterized using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) techniques. It will show if GABA neurons that induce LTD are genetically different from those that induce LTP. This is the next step in understanding the reward circuit and discovering solutions for addiction.
University / Institution: Brigham Young University
Type: Oral
Format: In Person
SESSION D (3:30-5:00PM)
Area of Research: Science & Technology
Faculty Mentor: Jeffery Edwards
Location: Union Building, EAST BALLROOM (3:30pm)