Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Craig H. Kinsley

Second Advisor

Dr. Frederick J. Kozub

Third Advisor

Dr. Kelly G. Lambert


A newly maternal rat goes through many changes when she gives birth, mostly due to prolonged elevation of hormones, particularly estrogen. Estrogen has been shown to increase memory capabilities by increasing synaptic activity in the CA1 hippocampus, but exactly how is still unknown. The current project uses reproductive experience to determine whether high hormone levels experienced during pregnancy and lactation affect spatial memory and synaptophysin, a pre-synaptic protein that controls vesicle exocytosis and thus may be responsible for enhanced synaptic connectivity. We found that reproduction itself does not affect memory of a spatial task, but the presence of pups has a deleterious effect on performance in the Morris water maze. Additionally, reproduction seems to play a role in elevating levels of SYN-IR, but not during the period of lactation. These findings suggest that removal of the lactating mother from her pups can result in decreased spatial abilities and synaptic function.

Included in

Psychology Commons