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Browsing by master's degree program "Neurotieteen maisteriohjelma"

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  • Kallo, Henna (2021)
    During the brain development, GABAergic neurons, also referred as interneurons, migrate tangentially from the subpallium to the pallium. After intracortical dispersion, the interneurons start radial migration towards their final location in the cortex. Although the radial migration of interneurons is extensively studied, mechanisms guiding the migration remain relatively unknown. Here we studied how manipulation of cortical activity affects the radial migration and allocation of the cortical GABAergic neurons in the developing mouse brain. For this purpose, we utilized whisker trimming induced sensory deprivation in GAD67-GFP mice at postnatal days 2-5 (P2-P5) followed by cell counting in brain slices derived from P5 and P10-aged mice. In addition, we performed live-imaging of migrating neurons in organotypic cultures derived from P2 SST-TdTomato and 5HT3aR-GFP mice and cultured for 1 day in vitro. These two mouse lines roughly represent early- and late-born subpopulations of the GABAergic neurons. Live-imaging was accompanied by activity manipulations using different drugs and the Designer Receptors Exclusively Activated by Designer Drugs (DREADD) technology. Analysis of the interneurons’ allocation on the barrel cortex after the unilateral sensory deprivation revealed misallocation of GAD67+ neurons on deep cortical layers of the contralateral hemisphere of the ablation group at P5. Analysis of the tracks from the live-imaged migrating interneurons revealed altered saltatory movement behaviour of 5HT3aR+ interneurons when clozapine-N-oxide (CNO) was used to activate the electroporated GFP-GCaMP3-mCherry-hM3Dq neurons located on L2/3 of the cortex. Moreover, we observed reduced motility of migrating interneurons in the organotypic cultures treated with a KCC2 inhibitor that alters GABAA-receptor mediated transmission. Altogether, our results suggest that activity is important in promoting the radial migration of late-born interneurons during the first days of the postnatal development.
  • Doutel Figueira, Joana Filipa (2022)
    The general question of this research is how beta oscillations are implicated in stopping an ongoing movement. Previous studies regarding movement cancellation have found a significant increase in beta activity in sensorimotor areas, especially in the form of transient increases in beta oscillations, called beta bursts. However, the functional role of beta band activity in stopping is still unclear, mainly because the behavioural tasks used cannot measure the exact timing when the subjects start the stopping process and therefore it is only possible to infer the stopping time. To resolve this, we used head-fixed rats running on a treadmill while performing a Go/NoGo task. In some NoGo trials, the rat starts to run, realizes the mistake and stops before crossing a fixed distance threshold. These are the events being analyzed, called near-mistake events (N=39,366). We found a single beta burst occurring prior to stopping in all five brain regions analyzed (from 44.2±20.1 ms to 55.8±16.0 ms) and positive correlations of beta burst number and power increase with movement speed before stopping. We also found a single alpha burst prior to and during stopping in all brain regions (from 45.9±20.1 ms to 57.1±19.3 ms), supporting previous studies’ findings of alpha band involvement in inhibitory motor actions. Our findings on beta bursts suggest a causality role in stopping an ongoing movement while our results of alpha bursts need to be further analyzed to understand its functional role.
  • Voipio, Mikko Emil Olavi (2020)
    Nitric oxide (NO) is an important signalling molecule in the brain. NO regulates the function of many proteins by e.g. interacting with tyrosine and cysteine residues, thus inducing post-translational modifications. In animal models, inhibition of NO production triggers behavioural effects similarly to those induced by antidepressant drugs. Receptor tropomyosin-related kinase B (TRKB) has been identified as a key player mediating antidepressant drug (AD) induced effects, and it’s a potential target for NO since it displays multiple potential sites for nitration. Preliminary results from our group indicate that TRKB nitration impairs its signalling, and AD uncouple many proteins from TRKB and reorganizes TRKB protein complex. We examined the effect of selective nitric oxide synthase (NOS) inhibitor N⍵-propyl-L-arginine (NPA) in mice submitted to the contextual fear conditioning and found out that inhibiting NO production with NPA has an antidepressant-like effect on mice. We also found out that AD fluoxetine prevents nitration of TRKB receptors in vivo and antidepressant drugs fluoxetine, phenelzine and imipramine disrupt the interactions of TRKB, NOS1 and NOS1 adaptor protein (CAPON) in co-immunoprecipitation assay. To understand the nature of TRKB and NOS1 interaction, we thus examined the protein domains in NOS1 and TRKB using Uniprot database, and we were unable to identify sites that could interact directly. Literature search for NOS1 adapting proteins followed by Uniprot data mining indicated CAPON as a potential candidate to mediate NOS1: TRKB interaction. Our data shows for the first time that antidepressant drugs disrupt TRKB:CAPON:NOS1 interaction, thus protecting TRKB from NOS1-induced nitration. ADs might induce their behavioural effects by preventing NO-induced impair in TRKB signalling
  • Enberg, Emma (2021)
    Kiinnostus käyttää psykedeelejä, kuten lysergihapon dietyyliamidia (LSD) ja psilosybiiniä, erinäisten psykiatristen sairauksien hoidossa ei ole jättänyt huomiotta päihteiden väärinkäyttöä. Tutkimukset ovat osoittaneet alustavia positiivisia vaikutuksia LSD:n käyttämisessä erinäisten addiktioiden, kuten kokaiini-, nikotiini- ja alkoholiriippuvuuksien hoidossa. LSD:n on raportoitu auttaneen joitain alkoholismista kärsiviä pysymään raittiina jopa 6-12 kuukautta yksittäisen LSD annoksen jälkeen. Valitettavasti näitä tuloksia on hankala tulkita, ja vaikutusten taustalla olevat mekanismit tunnetaan huonosti. Tutkimme hiirimallimme avulla, kuinka yksittäinen LSD annos vaikuttaa ahmimiskäyttäytymiseen. Käytimme sukroosiliuosta ahmivaa eläinmallia palkkionottamiskäyttäytymisen mallintamiseen, mikä on yksi addiktioihin liittyvän käyttäytymisen tunnusmerkeistä. Tutkimuksemme tavoitteena oli selvittää vaikuttaako LSD palkkionottamiskäyttäytymiseen, ja siten mahdollisesti aivojen palkkiojärjestelmään. LSD -annostelu (0,05 ja 0,1 mg/kg, i.p.) vähensi akuutisti sukroosiliuoksen ahmimiskäyttäytymistä, mutta vaikutus loppui viikon kuluessa. Tästä havaitusta akuutista vaikutuksesta huolimatta erot ryhmien välillä eivät olleet tilastollisesti merkittäviä. Täten oletettiin, että nettovaikutukset aivojen palkkiojärjestelmään ovat epätodennäköisiä. Kuitenkin pelkän i.p. injektion (10 ml/kg) havaittiin vaikuttavan veden juomiseen. Havaitsimme merkittävän piikin veden juonnissa injektointipäivänä, mikä palautui normaalitasolle jo seuraavaan päivään mennessä. Nämä tulokset johtivat jatkotutkimukseemme, jossa osoitettiin injektion aiheuttavan piikin vedenjuontiin riippumatta siitä, injektoidaanko saliinia vai LSD:tä. Tätä vaikutusta ei enää havaittu, mikäli injektioita annettiin perättäisinä päivinä, mutta jopa yhden tai kahden päivän väli injektioiden välillä riitti palauttamaan injektion aiheuttaman piikin vedenjuontiin. Koska onnistuimme poistamaan vedenjuontiin aiheutuneen vaikutuksen toistetuilla saliini-injektioilla, eikä vaikutus palautunut injektoitaessa LSD:tä, voimme todeta, että vaikutus liittyi injektiotoimenpiteeseen. Keskeisin havaintomme tässä tutkimuksessa oli, ettei LSD:llä ole merkittävää akuuttia vaikutusta sukroosiliuoksen ahmimiskäyttäytymiseen tässä hiirimallissa.
  • Toissalo, Emilia (2022)
    Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal neurodegenerative disease characterized by selective loss of upper and lower motor neurons (MN), which causes progressive muscle weakness and paralysis. ALS leads to death typically from 2 to 4 years after diagnosis. It is important to find more effective treatment options for this devastating disease, as the current treatments can prolong the survival by only a few months. Mesencephalic astrocyte-derived neurotrophic factor (MANF) belongs to an evolutionary conserved neurotrophic factor (NTF) family, whose mode of action differs from classical NTFs. MANF is an endoplasmic reticulum (ER) resident protein and is secreted upon ER stress from the ER, and it can protect the cells from ER stress-induced cell death. MANF has shown to be neuroprotective and –restorative in Parkinson’s disease and stroke rodent models. Adeno-associated viral (AAV) vectors can be used to express therapeutic genes in the target tissues for several months, which lessens the need for repetitive dosing. In this master’s thesis project, we aimed to investigate the neuroprotective effects of intrathecally injected AAV1-MANF gene therapy in a SOD1-G93A mouse model of ALS. We used two different MANF genes; full-length MANF and MANF with deleted ER retention signal (MANF-d), to assess the differences between normal and only secreted MANF. Red fluorescent protein (RFP) was used as a control and to further evaluate the transduction and expression of the viral vectors. Intrathecal injections were performed once on 13 weeks old mice, just before the disease onset. Clinical symptom analyses together with a set of behavioral tests were conducted once a week. Mice were sacrificed at the endpoint of the study when they could no longer use their hind limbs for forwarding propulsion. Immunohistochemical staining was performed on spinal cord paraffin samples, where MN count, microglia activation, and RFP expression were evaluated. AAV1-MANF and AAV1-MANF-d treatments improved the motor behavior of the SOD1-G93A mice one-week post- injection. More specifically, a statistically significant difference was seen in the turning times in the static rods test on two different diameter rods compared to control, but there was no difference between MANF groups. In addition, there was a notable difference between AAV1-MANF and the control group on week 16 rotarod scores. There were no statistically significant differences in other tests, survival of the mice, MN counts, or microglia activation between the groups. RFP expression was detected mainly in the ventral areas of the spinal cord with immunohistochemistry. Our results indicate the potential of MANF gene therapy in the treatment of ALS. Furthermore, we showed that intrathecal AAV1-MANF injections were well tolerated.
  • Niemelä, Miska Aleksanteri (2022)
    Master's thesis project includes the backbone assignment of the human activity-regulated cytoskeleton-associated protein C-lobe (hArc, Uniprot ID: Q7LC44), 7-fluoroindole-based tryptophan-labeling method, and comparing that with the 100% double-labeled and 20%(13C) fractionally labeled samples. The project focuses on the effects of 7-fluoroindole-based fluorotryptophan-labeling. hArc C-lobe has only one tryptophan, which makes the analysis easier. Typically fluorotryptophan-labeling is a costly method – fluorotryptophan itself is very expensive and attaching the fluorine to the tryptophan while expressing is expensive and complicated. Fluoroindolebased labeling circles around the problem, as indole and serine are used in procaryotic systems for tryptophan biosynthesis – meaning that fluoroindole, which is cheap, could be used as an alternative for previous methods. Fluoro-labeled tryptophan is used in protein NMR; for example, in binding studies – fluorine-probes are sensitive, and binding of ligand or protein would move these peaks, indicating binding. This project aims to get an insight into the application of this labeling method. The goal is to see if one could utilize one sample with both (1H, 15N, 13C) labeling and 7-fluorotryptophan labeling for binding and structural studies. However, fluorine is very electronegative, affecting surrounding structures and possibly sequentially nearby amino acids. This possible effect will be observed and determined by comparing the 1H15N-chemical shifts between well-established labeling methods and fluoroindolebased labeling. To determine what amino acids in the protein are affected, if they are affected, will be determined by using the backbone assignment results and the results from the sample comparisons.
  • Garnier Artiñano, Tomás (2021)
    Effective population coding is dependent on connectivity, active and passive postsynaptic membrane parameters but how it relates to information transfer and information representation in the brain is still poorly understood. Recently, Brendel et al. (2020) showed how spiking neuronal networks can efficiently represent a noise input signal. This "D_Model” successfully showed that spiking neural networks can recreate input signal representations and how these networks can be resilient to the loss of neurons. However, this model has multiple unphysiological characteristics, such as instantaneous firing and the lack of units related to physical values. The aim of the present study is to build upon the D_Model to add biological accuracy to it and study how information transfer is affected by biophysical parameters. We first modified the D_Model in the MATLAB environment to allow for the simultaneous firing of the neurons. Using our CxSystem2 simulator in a Python environment (Andalibi et al. 2019), we built a network replicating the one used in the D_Model. We quantified the information transfer of Leaky Integrate-and-Fire units that had identical physiological values for both inhibitory and excitatory units (Comrade class) as well as more biologically accurate physiological values (Bacon class). We used various information transfer metrics such as granger causality, transfer entropy, and reconstruction error to quantify the information transfer of the network. We examined the behaviour of the network while altering the values of the capacitance, synaptic delay, equilibrium potential, leak conductance, reset potential, and voltage threshold. Broad parameter searches showed that no single set of biophysical parameters maximised all information transfer metrics, but some ranges fully blocked information transfer by either saturating or stopping neuronal firing. This suggests theoretical boundaries on the possible electrophysiological values neurons can have. From narrow searches within electrophysiological ranges, we conclude that there is no single optimal set of physiological values for information transfer. We hypothesise that different neuronal types may specialise in transferring different aspects of information such as accuracy, efficiency, or to act as frequency filters.
  • Jalanko, Petri (2021)
    Physical fitness has declined during the last decades in adolescents. Furthermore, several studies have found a positive association between physical fitness and brain volume in adolescents, which is noteworthy since the adolescent brain undergoes substantial changes during growth and maturation. However, despite the importance of the cerebellum on adolescents' cognition and coordination, there remains a paucity of evidence on the associations between physical fitness and cerebellum characteristics. Thus, a cross-sectional approach was used to explore the relationship of cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF), power, speed-agility, coordination and overall neuromuscular performance index (NPI) with total gray matter (GM) volume of the cerebellum as well as lobules VI & VIIb, and crus I volume in 40 (22 girls; 18 boys) adolescents. Peak oxygen uptake (V̇O2peak) was measured by the maximal ramp test on a cycle ergometer, lower limb power was determined with standing long jump (SLJ), speed-agility was assessed with the 10 x 5-m shuttle-run test, upper limb coordination was determined with the Box and Block Test (BBT) and NPI was calculated as the sum of SLJ, BBT and shuttle-run z-values. Lean mass (LM) and body fat percentage (BF%) were measured using a bioelectrical impedance analysis. Cerebellum GM volume, lobules VI & VIIb, and crus I volumes were measured by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Results demonstrated that V̇O2peak/LM was negatively associated (β = -.045 P= .014) with cerebellum GM volume. No statistically significant associations were found between SLJ, shuttle-run, BBT scores or NPI and cerebellum characteristics in all participants. However, a poorer shuttle-run time was associated (β = -.363 P = .024) with smaller crus I volume in girls and V̇O2peak/LM was negatively associated (β = -.501 P = .031) with lobule VIIb volume in boys. These findings suggest that, in general, CRF and speed agility are associated with cerebellum characteristics in adolescents and there may be sex differences. The results extend our knowledge of the associations between physical fitness and brain volume, but more studies should be conducted to understand the relationship further.
  • Emre, Dusunceli (2022)
    The degree of neurogenesis in the adult hippocampal dentate gyrus (DG) is the center of the discussion in the field of adult neurogenesis. Although there is an on-going controversy, accumulating evidence suggests that the neural stem cells (NSCs) in the adult human DG are very few. The question remains open as to why there are so few NSCs in the adult human DG when compared with the rodent DG. In order to address these questions, it seems necessary to understand the developmental process of the NSCs in the adult human DG. In this thesis, the neural stem and progenitor cells in the fetal human DG are characterized. In addition to these findings, a semi-automatic method for counting and categorizing cells in their expressions of immunochemistry markers is developed.
  • Lackman, Madeleine Helena (2022)
    Diabetes mellitus is an incurable disease caused by dysfunctional insulin signaling. The brown adipose tissue (BAT) serves as a hotspot for both lipid and glucose consumption and is thus an attractive target for treating metabolic diseases. Newly surfacing evidence suggest that the endothelial cells (ECs) lining the inner layer of vessels might regulate the morphology and function of adipose tissues. Several studies, including our own, suggest that the vessel density is negatively affected by metabolic diseases. As the BAT is an important organ for systemic lipid and glucose metabolism, and as the effects of metabolic diseases on BAT vessels are not adequately explored, I wanted to investigate how the BAT vasculature changes upon early time points of type 1 (T1D) and 2 (T2D) diabetes in this thesis work. To this end, I used mouse models with chemically induced T1D and genetic T2D and characterized these models with immunohistochemical analyses and immunoassays. To explore the transcriptomic landscapes of ECs and adipose stem cells (ASCs), I analyzed scRNAseq data of BAT stromal vascular fractions (SVF), focusing on changes in gene expression and EC-ASC interactions at a transcriptomic level. Also, by using a publicly available single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNAseq) dataset, I compared BAT SVF gene expression to complement the data resulting from our experiments. The results from this work reveal differential angiogenic responses in the T1D and T2D mouse models and open new avenues of research into how these different pathways are activated and how we can take advantage of these differences to treat diseases. All in all, this work will support the efforts in developing better options for future diabetes prevention, diagnosis, and care.
  • Rappe, Anna (2021)
    Aging is the progressive accumulation of cellular dysfunction, stress and inflammation. The mitochondrial network plays a central role in the maintenance of cellular homeostasis, with a growing body of evidence assigning dysfunctional regulation of this network as cause or effect of age-related diseases including metabolic disorders, neuropathies, various forms of cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. Neuronal sensitivity to changes in energy supply and metabolic homeostasis make neurons especially susceptible to alterations in the mitochondrial network. Mitophagy, a specified form of autophagy, is the selective degradation and quality control mechanism of mitochondria by engulfment and fusion with acidic endolysosomal compartments of the cell. Mitophagy has been extensively characterised in cultured cells and short-lived model organisms. However, our understanding of physiological mitophagy during mammalian aging is unknown. This study utilizes mito-QC mitophagy reporter mice that enable in vivo detection and monitoring of mitochondrial turnover due to the distinct physicochemical properties of the tandem GFP-mCherry reporter. Using cohort groups of young and aged reporter mice, age-dependent alterations of mitophagy were quantified in the cerebellum and the outer nuclear layer (ONL) of the retina. Specific autophagy and mitophagy markers were used to assess the longitudinal alterations in the mitophagic landscape. Images of fixed brain tissue sections were attained by high-speed spinning disc confocal microscopy for the quantitative and histological analysis. This study characterises the longitudinal alterations of mitophagy in distinct regions of the central nervous system (CNS) of mitophagy reporter mice, demonstrating tissue-specific alterations in mitochondrial turnover throughout physiological time. Åldrande kan definieras som den successiva ackumuleringen av cellulär dysfunktion, stress och inflammation. I upprätthållandet av cellens funktioner och homeostas har det mitokondriella nätverket en central roll. Omfattande forskning visar att åldersrelaterade sjukdomar såsom neuropati, ämnesomsättningssjukdomar, olika cancerformer samt neurodegenerativa sjukdomar föranleds av mitokondriell dysfunktion. Neuroner är beroende av oavbruten energitillförsel och upprätthållen metabolisk homeostas, vilket gör dem speciellt mottagliga för förändringar i det mitokondriella nätverket. Mitofagi är en selektiv form av autofagi som degenererar och kvalitetskontrollerar mitokondrier genom att leverera dem till lysosomer där de bryts ned av hydrolytiska enzymer. Den aktuella kunskapen inom regleringen av och mekanismerna bakom mitofagi baserar sig på gedigen forskning av kortlivade organismer och cellkulturer. Däremot är vår kunskap inom åldrandets inverkan på mitofagi i däggdjur begränsad. I denna studie används musmodellen mito-QC vars rapportörgen består av ett binärt GFP-mCherry-komplex som besitter olika fysikaliska och kemikaliska egenskaper, vilket möjliggör upptäckt och analys av mitofagi in vivo. En kvantitativ jämförelse av mitofagi i unga och åldrande möss genomfördes i vävnadssnitt av cerebellum och av det yttre nukleära lagret av retinan. Specifika autofagi- och mitofagimarkörer användes för att utvärdera de longitudinella förändringarna i mitokondriell degenerering. Bilder för kvantitativ och histologisk analys erhölls med höghastighets spinning-disk-konfokalmikroskop. Denna forskning karaktäriserar de longitudinella förändringarna av mitofagi i definierade regioner av det centrala nervsystemet i musmodellen mito-QC och presenterar vävnadsspecifika förändringar i degenereringen av mitokondrier under åldrandets framskridande.
  • Tienhaara, Samu (2021)
    In visual detection, thresholds for light increments are higher than thresholds for light decrements. This asymmetry has been often ascribed to the differential processing of ON and OFF pathways in the retina, as ON and OFF retinal ganglion cells have been found to respond to increments and decrements, respectively. In this study, the performance of human participants in detecting spatially restricted (diameter 1.17 degrees of visual angle) and unrestricted increments and decrements was measured using a two-interval forced choice task. Background light intensities ranged from darkness through scotopic to low photopic levels. The detection threshold asymmetry found in earlier experiments was replicated with local stimuli. In contrast, however, the asymmetry between increment and decrement detection thresholds disappeared with fullfield stimuli. An ideal observer model was constructed to evaluate the role of two factors, Poisson variations and dark noise, in determining detection thresholds. Based on the model, these factors are insufficient to account for the increment-decrement asymmetry.
  • Blom, Sonja (2022)
    Pain is a subjective feeling often difficult to interpret or study and thus, pain of those unable to communicate their pain is difficult to recognize. According to the new definition of pain by IASP (Raja et al 2020), verbal description is only one of the many behaviours that can be used to express pain, and the inability to communicate pain does not negate the possibility of experiencing it. This addition to the definition points out that non-human animals, too, even if they cannot express it in words, are capable of both experiencing and communicating pain. Can we as humans interpret a state of pain in an animal in a trustworthy way – and in a manner that would be respectful and non-invasive to the animal? Infrared thermography (IRT) is a technology based on using infrared radiation instead of normal light to form images. These images can be used to quantify the surface temperature of an object with high resolution. The intensity of the radiation emitted by the object being imaged depends on the surface temperature and for this reason thermal imaging enables detecting and measuring changes of surface temperature. Pain and stress might manifest physiologically as activation of the autonomic nervous system, which in turn might result in changes in surface temperatures of the body. These changes might be detectable with a thermal camera. If we could establish a link between certain intricate temperature changes of the head area to certain type of activation of the sympathetic nervous system resulting from pain, thermal imaging could have the potential to detect this. In this study I investigated if there were detectable temperature changes in animal patients before and after a standard examination conducted to each patient admitted to the Wildlife Hospital of Helsinki Zoo, where my data was gathered. Another question was whether the patients that had pain differed in their temperature changes as compared to other patients. The question at the heart of my research was whether there would be a change in peripheral facial temperatures of patients before and after the examination. Another question was whether thermal patterns would be different for pain- and non-pain patients. I found that for some parameters, the temperature differences between pain- and non-pain patients were indeed different, for example the crown temperature of birds seemed to change with examination for patients without pain but not for patients with pain. A more prominent finding was that temperatures decrease across many parameters after an examination as compared to prior to it, across all or many patient groups. My research does not univocally show that thermal imaging could be used to detect pain; rather it affirms the thought that the measurement of changes in peripheral temperatures could be a potential window to non-invasively detect some changes of activation of the sympathetic nervous system in animals.
  • Björn, Marko (2021)
    Abstract: The EEG measurement protocol is standardized and in use globally. The skull is measured to ensure that the electrodes are placed in the correct position. Measurements are necessary because skull sizes and shapes are different. Studies for placing electroencephalograph (EEG) electrodes on a human head are typically introduced theoretically before students are granted the opportunity to practice. Due to the limited availability of EEG equipment and supervisory staff, students encounter shortened practical training sessions and lengthy waiting periods transitioning from theory to practical components. The main aim of this project was to create a learning environment with game technologies to help students study electrode placement during the idle time between theory lessons and practical training. We set out to determine whether students experienced some learning gain and if they had a positive experience with the learning environment. We simultaneously assessed if fuzzy feedback is preferred over exact feedback. Additionally, the aim was to make use of a design-based approach with the information from a User Experience Questionnaire (UEQ) the EEG-simulator. Our group developed and tested a digital learning application that provides a 3D model of a human head, on which learners can practice placing EEG electrodes. We followed a user-centric design science approach to ensure our application appeals to our target audience. We used an observational post-test only design with two experimental groups and a control group. We applied a widely accepted user experience questionnaire to ascertain which of our two feedback systems elicited the best user experience. We also qualitatively analyzed diaries the students kept, as they worked with the learning environment, to better understand future development options for further maximizing the environment’s learning benefit. The overall application was well-received, and students opined that the application significantly enhanced their practical session experience. Although the post-test evaluation showed no difference between the two experimental groups, the user experience questionnaire showed that the fuzzy feedback system was preferred over the exact feedback. Furthermore, it was evident that students who had not used the learning environment struggled more to come to terms with the practical session. The personal experience recording by the students revealed several suggested improvements to the learning environment. We conclude that, with further development, this EEG placement learning application could address the idle period between demonstration lessons and practical training. We also venture to state that fuzzy feedback is preferred because of the high-fidelity mimicry of real teacher feedback. The last part of the research was to develop the EEG simulator so that it will increase theory learning with a simulator, that works, and this is ongoing. We have developed the last EEG simulator version with AR (augmented reality) mobile version that can be used with any smart devices. The future work is to test EEG application and does application influence student's theory learning process.
  • Äikäs, Lauri (2021)
    Abstract Introduction: Atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases (ASCVD) cause the biggest burden on our healthcare system and cause most premature deaths. Risk for ASCVD can be lowered by lifestyle choices and medication, as well as several therapeutics such as ethyl eicosapentaenoic acid (E-EPA) supplementation. Here we aimed to investigate the effect of EEPA intervention on known ASCVD risk factors including circulating lipoprotein levels as well as low-density lipoprotein (LDL) aggregation susceptibility, a new independent risk factor for ASCVD. Study design: A study group of 39 healthy men and women participated in a 4-week long dietary supplement trial with 3.9 g/day of E-EPA. A dose of 75 µg/day of vitamin D was included in the E-EPA capsules. Blood samples were drawn before the trial, at weeks 1 and 4 of the intervention and 1 week after the intervention. The study was an open design where participants’ own baseline measurements were used to measure changes. Outcomes: The mean plasma cholesterol concentration was reduced from 3.8 mmol/l to 3.6 mmol/l (p=0.0038 one-way ANOVA) after one week of E-EPA supplementation and remained the same until the end of study period. This change was followed by a change in plasma LDL (p=0.0028 one-way ANOVA) and triglyceride (p=0.0004 one-way ANOVA) concentrations after four week and one week of E-EPA supplementation, respectively. Vitamin D levels increased on average by 18%, showcasing a lower relative response than seen in other vitamin D trials, which can be attributed to high effective baseline concentrations of vitamin D in our study group and the related negative feedback system. LDL aggregation susceptibility did not significantly change in the entire group. However, we discovered that the change in LDL aggregation susceptibility correlated negatively ( = -0.451, p = 0.0039) with the baseline LDL aggregation susceptibility. Thus, LDL aggregation decreased in participants having aggregation-prone LDL at baseline. This finding highlights a possibility that participants with higher LDL aggregation susceptibility may benefit from addition of E-EPA to their diet.
  • Seiffert, Nina (2021)
    An increasing number of people are diagnosed with depression. One possible reason for the development of depression is faulty wiring and information processing in certain neural networks (network hypothesis) in the central nervous system. It has been shown that antidepressant drugs (ADs) can induce a juvenile-like plasticity state in the brain (iPlasticity) comparable to the plastic state of critical periods during development. iPlasticity enables the rewiring of neuronal networks in combination with environmental stimuli. At the molecular level, the binding of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) to its high-affinity receptor tropomyosin kinase receptor B (TRKB) leads to TRKB dimerization and activation, triggering a downstream signalling cascade promoting brain plasticity. Activation of the TRKB signalling cascade is triggered by neuronal activity as well as AD treatment. Recent findings demonstrate that classical as well as rapid-onset ADs bind directly to the transmembrane domain of TRKB, leading to increased translocation of intracellularly stored TRKB to the plasma membrane and enhanced BDNF binding. Cholesterol, a sterol lipid known to regulate TRKB signalling, has been found to ensure optimal TRKB-BDNF signalling by changing the TRKB dimers’ relative orientation when altering the membrane thickness. A point mutation of TRKB tyrosine 433 to phenylalanine (TRKB.Y433F) has been found to hinder TRKB dimerization. Molecular dynamic simulations reveal that other membrane lipids are likely to participate in AD binding to TRKB. The aim of this thesis was to investigate whether lipid and drug compound treatments affect TRKB dimerization in Neuro2A cells expressing TRKB. Furthermore, we assessed whether the Y433F mutation modulates TRKB dimerization in such treatments. Protein fragment complementation assay (PCA) was used as in vitro protein-protein interaction assay to quantify dimerization of overexpressed TRKB carrying two split luciferase reporter proteins. Additionally, to avoid variability caused by transient transfection and be able to test large compound libraries, the establishment of a stably TRKB-expressing N2A cell line was initiated. The results show that lipid compounds, such as Allopregnanolone, as well as ADs, such as Imipramine and (2R,6R)-Hydroxynorketamine, increased TRKB dimerization in vitro in a dose-dependent manner within 40 minutes. The increase was more pronounced in the TRKB WT-expressing cells. This indicates that the compounds tested here may be directly interacting with TRKB, facilitating dimerization. Moreover, data seem to confirm previous research on the less effective TRKB.Y433F mutation. While stable expression of TRKB carrying one of the luciferase reporter proteins was successfully achieved in a monoclonal cell line, the amount of protein expressed seems to require further optimization before utilising it for PCA. In conclusion, lipid and AD treatments can induce an increase in TRKB dimerization in a dose-dependent fashion. Further investigations are needed to determine where the compounds bind and by which mechanisms they exert their effects on TRKB. Furthermore, the work on the stable cell line will be completed to avoid variability of transient transfection in the future.
  • Kuutti, Mirjami (2022)
    In recent years, psychedelics have shown promise in the treatment of conditions like depression and addiction. The therapeutic effects of psychedelics have been linked to their ability to increase plasticity in the brain, an effect that has also been seen for antidepressants. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a member of the neurotrophin family, which has an important role in the development of the nervous system, as well as promotion of neuronal survival and differentiation during adulthood. BDNF, through its receptor TrkB, has been implicated in antidepressant action, and BDNF-TrkB signalling is involved in many aspects of plasticity. Recently, antidepressants have been reported to bind directly to TrkB, and through this binding mediate their plasticity-enhancing, as well as behavioural effects. Psychedelics have been shown to increase structural and functional plasticity, but the mechanisms behind these effects are not fully understood. For example, the serotonergic receptor 5-HT2A is known to be behind the acute hallucinogenic effects of psychedelics, but its role in plasticity is still debated. The aim of this study was to investigate the mechanisms of LSD-induced plasticity. The dimerization of TrkB was examined after LSD treatment in the protein-fragment complementation assay (PCA). Phosphorylation of TrkB signalling markers mTOR and ERK, which have known effects on plasticity, was assessed in Western blot, and the total expression of BDNF was examined with the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). The timeline of the effects was investigated, and the involvement of 5-HT2A in TrkB dimerization and the phosphorylation of ERK was assessed by combining LSD treatment with the 5-HT2A antagonist M100907. Dimerization was also assessed in a TrkB mutant (Y433F) that has previously been shown to disrupt antidepressant effects on plasticity. These experiments showed that LSD treatment increased TrkB dimerization as well as phosphorylation of mTOR and ERK. The Y433F mutation interfered with LSD-induced TrkB dimerization, but the effects of LSD on TrkB dimerization or ERK phosphorylation were not blocked by M100907. Together, these data suggest that 5-HT2A is not involved in LSD-induced promotion of TrkB dimerization or ERK phosphorylation. The increases in phosphorylation and dimerization were found to be most robust after a 1 h LSD treatment, however an increase in BDNF expression was seen in cortical neuron cultures only after a 24 h treatment with LSD. The results reported in this study support the view that 5-HT2A might not be needed for the plasticity-inducing effects of psychedelics. If this is true, the development of treatments that target plasticity without hallucinatory effects could be possible. Overall, this research provides insight into the mechanisms of LSD-induced plasticity and offers new and interesting directions for future research in the field.
  • Törrönen, Essi (2020)
    4-Methylmethcathinone (Mephedrone) is one of the the most prevalent synthetic cathinones that bears close structural similarity to amphetamines. Like other stimulants, mephedrone is often used with alcohol (ethanol). In animal studies ethanol has been observed to potentiate the neurotoxicity of amphetamine-type stimulants, and same has been observed when mephedrone and alcohol is combined. The long-term effects of mephedrone have still remained largely elusive. The aim of this thesis is to study the effects of mephedrone, methamphetamine, and ethanol on dendritic spine density and morphology in the hippocampus, nucleus accumbens and caudate putamen, and compare the spine densities with changes in brain activation observed in manganese-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (MEMRI). Dendritic spines are small membranous protrusions on dendrites that act as the post-synaptic sites for most of the excitatory synapses. Amphetamine and methamphetamine have been shown to affect the density and morphology of the spines. The goal of this thesis was to investigate the long-term effect of binge-like (two times a day, four consecutive days) stimulant treatment on dendritic spines using Golgi-stained rat brain sections. The brains of 48 male Wistar rats were imaged using AxioImager Z2 microscope and the number and the size of the spines was analyzed using Reconstruct software. In this thesis no effect on dendritic spines was observed in the hippocampus and nucleus accumbens in animals treated with mephedrone, methamphetamine, ethanol or combination of them. In the caudate putamen significant increase in the total density of dendritic spines and in the density of filopodia-like spines was observed in mephedrone-treated animals. Other treatments showed no observable effect. These results were conflicting with previous studies where amphetamine-type stimulants have been shown to increase the spine density in the nucleus accumbens and the hippocampus and increase the density of branched spines. In the caudate putamen methamphetamine has been observed to decrease the spine density. There was no correlation between spine densities and brain activation observed in MEMRI. To my best knowledge this is the first time when the effect of mephedrone on dendritic spines has been studied. It is possible that the treatment regimen used here was not strong enough to produce marked long-term changes on dendritic spines. It is also possible, that mephedrone is not as neurotoxic as other amphetamine-type stimulants, which may explain why the effects remained limited and conflicting. More research is still required to establish the long-term structural effects of mephedrone.
  • Moog, Maia (2022)
    Catastrophic childhood epilepsies are characterized by persistent seizures and are frequently associated with cognitive and developmental impairments. Many, approximately 30%, of these epilepsies are rare genetic disorders that do not have effective therapeutic options. The bench to drug process is lengthy and expensive, and thus it is critical to find more affordable drug screening options. Zebrafish are an ideal model organism for screening studies as they share considerable (70%) genetic similarities with humans and are cheap to maintain with efficient breeding capabilities. In the present study, 37 zebrafish lines were screened for epileptic brain activity to identify high priority genes for future pharmacology studies. Each zebrafish line, generated by CRISPR-Cas9 represents a single gene loss of function mutation associated with 3 epilepsy based on genome wide association studies. Larval zebrafish were screened for spontaneous seizure activity using electrophysiological assays. The following 8 genes were significantly associated with spontaneous seizure activity in zebrafish: EEF1A, ARX, GRIN1, GABRB3, PNPO, STRADA, SCN1A, and STXBP1. There is now an open-source database for all 37 zebrafish lines, which contains sequencing information, survival curves, behavioral profiles, and electrophysiological data. The findings reveal novel target genes for future drug development and discovery. Future work is needed to explore whether zebrafish also model co-morbidities commonly seen in human patients with epilepsy.
  • elDandashi, Rahaf (2021)
    Epigenetics is the study of changes in gene function without affecting the DNA sequence. Epigenetics studies the effects of the environment and behavior on the genome. Researchers have been able to detect several epigenetic modifications such as –DNA methylation, histone acetylation, and microRNA-associated gene silencing. Changes in the epigenome are essential for proper cell function and normal development and can also be induced by environmental factors. Stress is defined as a biological response to physiological and psychological demands which can affect cellular homeostasis. Factors such as prenatal life stress can affect gene function without directly altering the DNA nucleotide sequence. Elevated levels of stress can immobilize with the ability to impair cognitive function. There is evidence that suggests the involvement of epigenetic regulation in disorders such as addiction, depression, schizophrenia, and cognitive dysfunction. Therefore, this systematic review discusses recent findings of the role of epigenetics in prenatal exposure to stress. To achieve this, the thesis will cover different subtopics from genetics, neurobiology, and diseases, neuroscience, biological psychiatry, life sciences, medicine, behavioral brain research, biochemistry & molecular biology, as well as neuroendocrinology. Research questions are 1) Is there an association between epigenetics and prenatal stress? 2) What kind of mechanisms have been found? 3) What kind of techniques have been used in the identification of potential epigenetic mechanisms? What genes are associated with these epigenetic changes?. This study followed the "The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses" (PRISMA) guideline checklist. Eligibility criteria and search terms where be selected and documented to offer the widest range of articles covering the subjects of this study. A literature search was done using PubMed/Medline, Google scholar, and gray literature. The last sample comprised 59 articles. Data were extracted so that the participants, intervention, comparisons, and outcomes were included. The literature search conducted in this systematic review identified a few findings. First is that the majority of animal and human studies found a significant or moderate association between epigenetics and prenatal stress. Second, DNA methylation is the most studied epigenetic mechanism in maternal exposure to stress Third, genome-wide studies were more common in human studies than in animals and the most widely used method used is Infinium HumanMethylation450 Bead Chip. However, the common methods used in human and animal studies are most likely because of the small sample size and causation cannot be determined. Finally, NR3C1 and FKBP5 genes were the most studied in human studies where they showed the strongest association between prenatal stress and epigenetic modifications. While in animal studies, the most studied genes were Bdnf and Dnmt1 as they showed a significant methylation level after maternal prenatal stress exposure. In conclusion, maternal prenatal stress could trigger epigenetic alterations in neonates in both animals and humans. This holistic review detailed and evaluated locus-specific and studies exploring current knowledge about associations between maternal prenatal stress and epigenetic changes.