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«Strengthening the Nation through Diversity, Innovation & Leadership in STEM San Antonio,Texas · October 3-6, 2013 Get Connected! Connect with the ...»

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Following natural menopause, androstenedione becomes the main hormone secreted by the follicle-depleted ovaries. We have previously evaluated high physiological doses of androstenedione in the female rodent and found relations between higher androstenedione levels and spatial memory impairment; this relationship was shown when androstendione levels were of endogenous, or exogenous, origin. This androstenedione-induced memory impairment in females led us to question whether this androgen also impairs memory in males; no study has yet evaluated androstenedione’s impact on cognition in the male rodent model. This is a clinically relevant question since androstenedione is a steroid of abuse. In the current study, 4-month-old male rats were given either a daily injection of androstenedione or vehicle (polyethylene glycol). Subjects are currently undergoing a battery of cognitive tasks evaluating spatial working and reference memory including the water radial arm maze (WRAM), Morris water maze (MM), and delayed match-to-sample. Results will be presented.



ACCUMBENS Veronica Peterson1, James P. Rice1, Brian A. McCool2, Derek A. Hamilton1.

University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, 2Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC.

1 The nucleus accumbens (NAc) is critical for reward learning and reinforcement. NAc is a major terminus of the mesolimbic dopaminergic pathway and its examination provides information to help understand the role of this pathway in addiction and drug-seeking behaviors. The present study sought to examine the effects of short- (24 hour) and long- (7 day) term withdrawal from chronic ethanol exposure on spine density in the NAc. Adult male Sprague Dawley rats were placed in airtight plexiglas chambers and received 10 consecutive days of ethanol vapor. Controls received only room air during exposure. Golgi-Cox stained MSNs from the NAc core and shell were analyzed at 1200X magnification. Unobstructed terminal segments of dendrites were sampled and spines analyzed along a length of 40 microns or greater. Spines were counted and characterized by maturation state. Preliminary examination of the data suggests that total spine density follows similar trends found in previous studies of dendritic morphology in these test subjects. There is a trend of overall reduction in the core and shell of the NAc during 24-hour withdrawal. After 7 days of withdrawal, there was an increase in spine density in the core but not the shell compared to the 24-hour and

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Elizabeth Ogunsanya1, Megan Laporte1, Christina Monaco2, Kaitlin Folweiler1, Anna Greene2, Jeffrey Cheng2, Anthony Kline2.

University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, 2Safar Center for Resuscitation Research, University of Pittsburgh, 1 Pittsburgh, PA.

Antipsychotic drugs (APDs) are provided to alleviate clinical, traumatic brain injury (TBI)-induced agitation. Because chronic administration of APDs will likely only occur during rehabilitation, we sought to investigate the effects of HAL and environmental enrichment (EE) on behavior after TBI. Fifty-three anesthetized male rats received a cortical impact or sham injury and then were randomly assigned to 4 TBI and 4 sham groups receiving either EE or standard (STD) housing. HAL (0.5 mg/kg) and saline vehicle (VEH, 1.0 mL/kg i.p.) were provided beginning 24


hours after surgery and every day for 3 weeks. Motor and cognitive function was assessed on days 1 - 5 and 14 - 19, respectively. No differences were observed between the TBI STD-housed HAL and VEH groups in either beam walk (p = 0.68) or water maze (p = 0.67). The TBI+EE+VEH group was significantly better in both motor and cognitive function relative to the TBI+STD+VEH group (p = 0.0024 and p = 0.0003, respectively). Moreover, the TBI+EE+VEH group was better than the TBI+STD+HAL group on both motor and cognition (p’s 0.05). However, the TBI+EE+VEH group did not differ from the TBI+EE+HAL group on the beam or in the maze (p = 0.179 and p = 0.45, respectively;

p = 0.005 required by the Bonferonni post-hoc test). These data show that EE is beneficial after TBI and also show that HAL produces substantial motor and cognitive deficits. Lastly, the findings indicate that EE can attenuate the detrimental effects of HAL, but HAL, in turn, limits the efficacy of EE. Several ongoing studies are investigating this complex phenomenon regarding APDs and rehabilitation after TBI.





Viridiana Estrada, Nicole Wicha, Alondra Chaire.

University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX.

Previous studies have shown that young adults, both Spanish and English speaking, anticipate nouns and articles in sentences. Recent studies show that English-speaking, older adults do not predict upcoming nouns. The current study looks at how normally aging Spanish-speaking older adults differ in their prediction of words, specifically gendermarked nouns, compared to young adults. The older adult participants (n = 24) will be matched to a control group of young adults (n = 24) on the basis of socioeconomic status and language proficiency. Participants will read sentences that build an expectation for a specific noun while their brain waves are recorded using an electroencephalograph (EEG). The key manipulation will be at the article, which matches or mismatches in grammatical gender with the expected target noun. EEG trials will be time-locked to target words in the sentences and averaged across trials to produce event related potentials (ERPs). Compared to English, determiners in Spanish provide richer information about an upcoming noun because of the grammatical gender agreement between an article and noun (el mariposa/ la mariposa). Based on this, we predict that Spanish speakers, unlike English speakers, will be more sensitive to the article and, in turn, the ERP components will reflect an expectancy effect when participants get an article that is opposite in gender to the noun expected from sentence context. This study will allow us to determine if all older adults fail to make predictions based on context, or whether an enriched linguistic context can facilitate predictions, even in a biologically stressed brain.




Christian Cazares, Ludovica Labruna, Richard Ivry.

University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA.

Action selection implies a choice between several potential effectors in competition. Previous studies have shown 2 inhibitory mechanisms that help perform an action efficiently. Impulse control (IC) is manifest in the selected effector and hypothesized to reflect an inhibitory mechanism that helps shape the timing of the response. Competition resolution (CR) is manifest in the nonselected effector and hypothesized to reflect an inhibitory mechanism that helps sharpen the selection process. The role of inhibition in response selection has previously been examined in a series of hand selection studies. A recent study has shown that, in contralateral limb competition, CR inhibition is present only when the response alternatives involved movements of the upper limbs and absent when response alternatives were between an upper limb and a lower limb. To identify constraints on the operation of these two inhibitory mechanisms, we manipulated the effectors used for the response alternatives, measuring changes in corticospinal excitability with motor-evoked potentials elicited by transcranial magnetic stimulation. In a choice reaction-time, task participants had to choose between moving contralateral homologous/non-homologous and ipsilateral limbs. Results show different


levels of inhibition depending on the pair involved in the competition. In particular, there was a stronger inhibition when the two effectors in competition are in the same hand, suggesting that more inhibition is needed for competing effectors close in anatomical representation.



Jennifer Hinojosa, Michael Ryan.

University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX.

Smokers may have some mistaken beliefs about a cessation treatment that may make them less receptive to it.

Previous research has shown there may be some reluctance to adopt or persist with a nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) or drug treatments (Chantix or Zyban) and that smokers have misconceptions about these smoking-cessation strategies. Examples of misconceptions about NRT are that NRT can be addictive and that NRT is harmful. The hypothesis of this experiment is that naïve conceptions that people have about the nature of nicotine and the nature of cessation treatment problems may act to reduce the attractiveness of those treatments. Participants will be from the University of Texas at San Antonio psychology-student pool. The participants will first provide information about their smoking habits. They will then rate their agreement with 30 claims about NRT/Chantix: half the claims will be valid and half will be invalid. Finally, they will be provided with detailed descriptions of the logic and procedure for each smoking-cessation treatment and asked to judge the attractiveness of each treatment on a number of psychosocial dimensions. The significance of the data is that it can be used to better educate individuals about NRT and drug regimens to clear up any counterproductive misconceptions. The importance of this research is to focus on modifying any misconceptions a smoker may have that could be impediments to adopting a given program for smoking cessation.(This work was partially supported by UTSA MARC-U*STAR GM007717.) SAT-155


Michelle T. Nguyen, Jerry C. Prater, Jeffrey R. Gagne.

University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, TX.

The TEXAS Family Study investigates child and parent behavior in families with two siblings between the ages of

2.5 and 5.5 years. In the present study, we examined parent affect and its relationship to other parent variables and child temperament. Based on previous research showing associations between negative parent attributes and child temperament, we hypothesized that parents with negative affect will have more negative qualities and will rate their children as more difficult. The sample included 189 children (50.3% female) with a mean age of 3.72 years. Selfreported online questionnaires were completed by parents through Survey Monkey. Parent variables were assessed with the positive- and negative-affect schedule (PANAS), the big five personality inventory (BFI), the Center for Epidemiologic Studies depression scale (CES-D), and a family conflict scale. Child temperament was measured with the toddler behavior assessment questionnaire (TBAQ). Parents with higher positive affect had higher extraversion, agreeableness, and conscientiousness, and lower depression, family conflict, and neuroticism. Those with higher negative affect reported elevated levels of depression, family conflict, and neuroticism, and lower agreeableness

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Suzanna Osuna, Karen Pierce.

Neurosciences, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a condition characterized by communication deficits that often persist throughout the lifespan. In typically developing children, parent speech styles influence the child’s verbal abilities. This study examined the language trajectories of toddlers with ASD in relation to their caregivers’ speech. Children with ASD whose caregivers’ speech featured more initiations and narrative dialogue were predicted to have greater linguistic proficiency. Participants were 3-year-olds with ASD (n = 80), with language delays (n = 80), or typical controls (n = 80). Currently, a total of 39 toddlers have participated. In a longitudinal study, they were assessed in standardized


and experimental paradigms. Information about the children’s language was gathered from videos of play interactions between the child and caregiver. The speech of both was transcribed and coded. For children, utterances were coded for degree of successful articulation, initiation or responsiveness, and echolalia. Parental speech was coded as an initiation, response, narration, praise, or discipline. Preliminary analyses demonstrate that parents of children with ASD employed more narrative and initiation speech compared to parents of typical children. A greater amount of parent initiations and narrations may reflect the adaptation of parent speech to ASD children’s social and communicative deficits. Further analyses will examine interactions between caregiver speech and the linguistic abilities of their children as measured by standardized assessments. Examining which components of child-directed speech are related to language outcomes is key to understanding the influence of caregiver speech on linguistic functioning.



Jessica Carrasco, Ranee Flores, Joseph Frantz, Sephira Ryman, Rex Jung.

University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM.

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