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NSB Seminar – Karla Kaun
May 22, 2019 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
NSB Summer Seminar
Weds, May 22, 2019, 12:00
Location: 423 Tobin Hall
Karla R. Kaun
Robert J. and Nancy D. Carney Assistant Professor of Neuroscience
How Alcohol Influences Memory Circuits to Induce Cravings
Have you ever wondered why people crave alcohol but not apples? We are wired to seek and respond to rewarding experiences, and drugs of abuse work by hijacking our brain’s reward centers. However, the sheer number and variety of nerve cells within the mammalian brain’s reward centers, combined with their elaborate connectivity, has prevented us from understanding how drugs of abuse affect these brain circuits. My lab uses Drosophila, which have approximately 100,000 central brain neurons, to understand how drugs like alcohol affect the brain connections important for forming and maintaining cravings. Combining forward genetics, transcriptomic and detailed circuit mapping approaches, we’ve shown how alcohol influences the highly conserved Notch cell-signaling pathway to affect transcription required for memory formation in memory-encoding neurons. I’ll discuss how formation of memories for a sensory cue associated with alcohol intoxication affects splicing in memory circuits in a context specific way, and how this molecular change can influence a dynamic shift from circuits that form memories to circuits that predict memories.