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The zebrafish as a new vertebrate model for molecular and cellular mechanisms of learning and memory, including synaptic dysfunction in Alzheimer's disease (LEARNING AND MEMORY)
Start date: Aug 1, 2011, End date: Jul 31, 2013 PROJECT  FINISHED 

A majority of our most common neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, age-related dementia and multiple sclerosis, are manifested by memory loss and a reduced potential for learning. Additionally, a substantial portion of our population suffers from various forms of learning difficulties. Despite all the efforts to solve the mystery of learning and memory, we still do not have a complete cellular model of learning in a higher model organism. During my postdoc at UCLA, USA, I have developed a preparation to study learning of the rapid escape response in zebrafish (Danio Rerio). This model allows for genetic manipulations and behavioral memory testing, simultaneously with physiological recordings in vivo, in a way that has not yet been possible in any other model system. Using this model, I have been able to monitor changes in activity during the learning in the neurons that elicit the behavior. My experiments have also shown the importance of inhibitory regulation of the network during the learning. I will now use this model to study how molecular, cellular and network modifications underlie learning and memory. In parallel, I will investigate the usefulness of the model to study memory deficiencies induced by Alzheimer-associated proteins, such as A-beta. My goal is to establish the links between genes, molecular mechanisms, network function, and behavior of learning and memory, to help us understand both the normal and diseased brain.
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