Degree Type

Honors Capstone Project

Date of Submission

Spring 5-2016

Capstone Advisor

Paul Gold

Capstone Major


Capstone College

Arts and Science

Audio/Visual Component



cognitive decline, aging

Capstone Prize Winner


Won Capstone Funding


Honors Categories

Sciences and Engineering

Subject Categories

Biotechnology | Integrative Biology


Aging is often associated with cognitive decline, including problems with working memory and difficulties forming new memories. These deficits can be directly linked to the hippocampus, an area of the temporal lobe of the brain that is engaged during spatial working memory. Age-related declines may be influenced by changes in important modulatory pathways that impact hippocampal function, including regulation of the metabolite lactate. When astrocytic stores of glycogen are hydrolyzed, lactate is released into the extracellular space where it can be taken up by neurons and used as fuel during moments of activation. We previously found that the extracellular concentration of lactate rises in the hippocampus of young male rats while they performed a spatial working memory task (Newman et al., 2011). Infusions of lactate into the hippocampus of young adult males improved their memory performance on this same task (Newman et al., 2011). Recent data has shown that lactate does not rise as robustly in the hippocampus of old rats during spatial working memory when compared to their young counterparts. To investigate whether age-related memory deficits were a result of reversible shifts in metabolic regulation, young (3 months) and old (24 months) male Fischer 344 rats were given infusions of lactate or a vehicle control directly into the hippocampus immediately before a spatial working memory task. Old rats that received infusions of lactate showed robust improvement on this task compared to saline controls or young rats with the same treatment. These results indicate that age-related shifts in memory may be due to changes in metabolic regulation and may be reversed with the application of specific useful metabolites.

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Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
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