Masters Thesis

Assessment of locomotion, learning, and memory post-seizure recovery in drosophila melanogaster

Worldwide, there are 65 million people that have epilepsy and approximately 200,000 additional individuals are diagnosed with epilepsy annually. There is no cure and currently available anticonvulsants, which are medications to treat seizures, are not universally effective. Additional studies are needed to generate better treatment options. Drosophila melanogaster provides a valuable and efficient model to study seizure disorders due to the low cost of maintenance, genetic tractability, and short lifespan, which allows for observation at various life stages. D. melanogaster also possesses similarities to humans on cellular and subcellular levels. These advantages allow the development of a model for the high throughput study of epilepsy. This study aims to induce single and multiple seizures and monitor locomotion, learning, and memory. The results from the negative geotaxis assay, which takes advantage of D. melanogaster’s innate climbing behavior, suggest that single seizure events have minimal impact, whereas multiple seizures result in deficits in visuo-motor/motor behavior. Additionally, a visual place learning assay was used to study the cognitive abilities and results suggest a single seizure event impacts learning and memory. Lastly, whole brain slides were made and determined lesions in brain tissue result from repeated seizure events. The significant findings from this research may contribute to improve therapeutics for epilepsy by providing a method of high throughput screening.