Graduation Date

Spring 2017

Document Type



Master of Arts degree with a major in Psychology, option Academic Research

Committee Chair Name

Ethan Gahtan

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Christopher Aberson

Second Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Third Committee Member Name

David Baston

Third Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Subject Categories



Caffeine has diverse effects on neurons including, potentially, protection against Parkinson’s-related neurodegeneration. Caffeine may protect neurons from damage by limiting mitochondrial membrane permeability through a calcium-dependent mechanism. This study was a first step investigating calcium’s role in caffeine neuroprotection in vivo using zebrafish larvae. Elavl3:GCaMP6s zebrafish, which express a genetically encoded fluorescent calcium indicator protein in most CNS neurons, received caffeine (0, 50, 125, 250 µM, bath applied) in an ascending dose series during fluorescence calcium imaging of a central catecholaminergic nucleus (a proposed zebrafish homolog of the locus coeruleus, a structure affected in Parkinson’s disease). Parallel experiments tested effects of an ascending dose series of paraxanthine (0, 40, 100, 200 µM), a neuroactive caffeine metabolite, to assess whether paraxanthine mediates caffeine effects. Five outcomes were measured: spontaneous calcium oscillations, visually-evoked calcium responses, spontaneous swimming activity, visually-evoked swimming, and heart rate (visual responses were evoked by a sudden dimming of ambient illumination). Caffeine and paraxanthine had no effect on the power of low frequency (

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Thesis/Project Location