Instating Natural Reward-Induced Conditioned Place Preference in C57BL/6J Mice​

Sydney Fitzcharles head shot

Name: Sydney Fitzcharles
Major: Neuroscience (Cognitive/Behavioral Track)
Advisors: Alfredo Zúńiga, Grit Herzmann

Research Supported by the Copeland Fund

Reward is a vastly complex process, integrating diverse brain regions and neurotransmitters to modulate higher-order vertebrate behavior. Often studied utilizing unnatural drugs of abuse (cocaine, methamphetamines, alcohol), reward research is relevant to substance abuse disorders and conditions involving dysfunctional reward circuitry (depressive disorders, schizophrenia). The present study, however, aimed to approach reward with a naturally rewarding substance: chocolate. Using five milk chocolate chips as a natural reward, I sought to evaluate the ability of mice to develop conditioned place preference to a context paired with this reward. Subjecting male and female C57BL/6J male mice (n = 16) to a ten-day conditioned place preference paradigm, it was hypothesized that the experimental mice would develop preference for the CS+ conditioning environment. Analyzing the percent preference data, I found no significant conditioning in any mice, however, I observed sex differences within the experimental mice. The experimental male mice exhibited increased preference for the CS+ conditioning environment in comparison to the experimental females. Furthermore, the male mice, overall, consumed more of the natural reward than the females during conditioning. My data suggests that conditioning was more successful in the male mice, indicating that sex differences may underlie natural reward-induced CPP. In follow up research, I would like to further elucidate the identity of active neurons through fluorescent microscopy techniques and assess the role of various reward doses in natural reward.

Posted in Comments Enabled, Independent Study, Symposium 2023 on April 14, 2023.

One response to “Instating Natural Reward-Induced Conditioned Place Preference in C57BL/6J Mice​”

  1. Katie Fleig says:

    Congratulations, Sydney!!!