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ASU Electronic Theses and Dissertations


This collection includes most of the ASU Theses and Dissertations from 2011 to present. ASU Theses and Dissertations are available in downloadable PDF format; however, a small percentage of items are under embargo. Information about the dissertations/theses includes degree information, committee members, an abstract, supporting data or media.

In addition to the electronic theses found in the ASU Digital Repository, ASU Theses and Dissertations can be found in the ASU Library Catalog.

Dissertations and Theses granted by Arizona State University are archived and made available through a joint effort of the ASU Graduate College and the ASU Libraries. For more information or questions about this collection contact or visit the Digital Repository ETD Library Guide or contact the ASU Graduate College at gradformat@asu.edu.


Date Range
2011 2018


The RASopathies are a collection of developmental diseases caused by germline mutations in components of the RAS/MAPK signaling pathway and is one of the world’s most common set of genetic diseases. A majority of these mutations result in an upregulation of RAS/MAPK signaling and cause a variety of both physical and neurological symptoms. Neurodevelopmental symptoms of the RASopathies include cognitive and motor delays, learning and intellectual disabilities, and various behavioral problems. Recent noninvasive imaging studies have detected widespread abnormalities within white matter tracts in the brains of RASopathy patients. These abnormalities are believed to be indicative of underlying connectivity deficits …

Contributors
Bjorklund, George Reed, Newbern, Jason M, Neisewander, Janet, et al.
Created Date
2018

Serotonin 1B receptors (5-HT1BRs) are a novel target for developing pharmacological therapies to reduce psychostimulant craving. 5-HT1BRs are expressed in the mesolimbic pathway projecting from the ventral tegmental area (VTA) to the nucleus accumbens (NAc), which is involved in reward and motivation. 5-HT1BR agonists modulate both cocaine- and methamphetamine-seeking behaviors in rat models of psychostimulant craving. In this dissertation, I tested the central hypothesis that 5-HT1BRs regulate cocaine and methamphetamine stimulant and rewarding effects in mice. I injected mice daily with cocaine for 20 days and then tested them 20 days after their last injection. The results showed that the …

Contributors
Der-Ghazarian, Taleen, Neisewander, Janet, Olive, Foster, et al.
Created Date
2018

Food is an essential driver of animal behavior. For social organisms, the acquisition of food guides interactions with the environment and with group-mates. Studies have focused on how social individuals find and choose food sources, and share both food and information with group-mates. However, it is often not clear how experiences throughout an individual's life influence such interactions. The core question of this thesis is how individuals’ experience contributes to within-caste behavioral variation in a social group. I investigate the effects of individual history, including physical injury and food-related experience, on individuals' social food sharing behavior, responses to food-related stimuli, …

Contributors
Finkelstein, Abigail Basya, Amdam, Gro V, Conrad, Cheryl, et al.
Created Date
2017

Approximately 2.8 million Americans seek medical care for traumatic brain injury (TBI) each year. Of this population, the majority are sufferers of diffuse TBI, or concussion. It is unknown how many more individuals decline to seek medical care following mild TBI. This likely sizeable population of un- or self-treated individuals combined with a lack of definitive biomarkers or objective post-injury diagnostics creates a unique need for practical therapies among diffuse TBI sufferers. Practical therapies stand to decrease the burden of TBI among those who would otherwise not seek treatment or do not meet clinical diagnostic criteria upon examination. For this …

Contributors
Harrison, Jordan Lee, Lifshitz, Jonathan, Neisewander, Janet, et al.
Created Date
2017

The Erk/MAPK pathway plays a major role in cell growth, differentiation, and survival. Genetic mutations that cause dysregulation in this pathway can result in the development of Rasopathies, a group of several different syndromes including Noonan Syndrome, Costello Syndrome, and Neurofibromatosis Type-1. Since these mutations are germline and affect all cell types it is hard to differentiate the role that Erk/MAPK plays in each cell type. Previous research has shown that individual cell types utilize the Erk/MAPK pathway in different ways. For example, the morphological development of lower motor neuron axonal projections is Erk/MAPK-independent during embryogenesis, while nociceptive neuron projections …

Contributors
Smith, Colton, Newbern, Jason, Neisewander, Janet, et al.
Created Date
2017

Schizophrenia is considered a multifactorial disorder with complex genetic variants in response to environmental stimuli. However, the specific genetic contribution to schizophrenia risk is largely unknown. The transcription factor early growth response gene 3 (EGR3) can be activated rapidly after stimuli and thus may translate environmental stimuli into gene changes that influence schizophrenia risk. However, the downstream genes that may be regulated by EGR3 are not clear. While the 5-Hydroxytryptamine receptor 2A (5HT2AR) - encoding gene Htr2a has been implicated in the etiology of schizophrenia, the mechanisms by which Htr2a influences susceptibility to this illness are poorly understood. We previously …

Contributors
Zhao, Xiuli, Gallitano, Amelia, Van Keuren-Jensen, Kendall, et al.
Created Date
2017

Animals must learn to ignore stimuli that are irrelevant to survival, which is a process referred to as ‘latent inhibition’. This process has been shown to be genetically heritable (Latshaw JS, Mazade R, Sinakevitch I, Mustard JA, Gadau J, Smith BH (submitted)). The locus containing the AmTYR1 gene has been shown through quantitative trait loci mapping to be linked to strong latent inhibition in honey bees. The Smith lab has been able to show a correlation between learning and the AmTYR1 receptor gene through pharmacological inhibition of the receptor. In order to further confirm this finding, experiments were designed to …

Contributors
Petersen, Mary Margaret, Smith, Brian H, Wang, Ying, et al.
Created Date
2017

Intervertebral Disc Degeneration (IVDD) is a complex phenomenon characterizing the desiccation and structural compromise of the primary joint in the human spine. The intervertebral disc (IVD) serves to connect vertebral bodies, cushion shock, and allow for flexion and extension of the vertebral column. Often presenting in the 4th or 5th decades of life as low back pain, this disease was originally believed to be the result of natural “wear and tear” coupled with repetitive mechanical insult, and as such most studies focus on patients between 40 and 50 years of age. Research over the past two decades, however, has demonstrated …

Contributors
Fulton, Travis, Liebig, Juergen, Neisewander, Janet, et al.
Created Date
2016

MicroRNAs are small, non-coding transcripts that post-transcriptionally regulate expression of multiple genes. Recently microRNAs have been linked to the etiology of neuropsychiatric disorders, including drug addiction. Following genome-wide sequence analyses, microRNA-495 (miR-495) was found to target several genes within the Knowledgebase of Addiction-Related Genes (KARG) database and to be highly expressed in the nucleus accumbens (NAc), a pivotal brain region involved in reward and motivation. The central hypothesis of this dissertation is that NAc miR-495 regulates drug abuse-related behavior by targeting several addiction-related genes (ARGs). I tested this hypothesis in two ways: 1) by examining the effects of viral-mediated miR-495 …

Contributors
Bastle, Ryan, Neisewander, Janet, Newbern, Jason, et al.
Created Date
2016

Pediatric traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a leading cause of death and disability in children. When TBI occurs in children it often results in severe cognitive and behavioral deficits. Post-injury, the pediatric brain may be sensitive to the effects of TBI while undergoing a number of age-dependent physiological and neurobiological changes. Due to the nature of the developing cortex, it is important to understand how a pediatric brain recovers from a severe TBI (sTBI) compared to an adult. Investigating major cortical and cellular changes after sTBI in a pediatric model can elucidate why pediatrics go on to suffer more neurological …

Contributors
Nichols, Joshua, Anderson, Trent, Newbern, Jason, et al.
Created Date
2015

Many behaviors are organized into bouts – brief periods of responding punctuated by pauses. This dissertation examines the operant bouts of the lever pressing rat. Chapter 1 provides a brief history of operant response bout analyses. Chapters 2, 3, 5, and 6 develop new probabilistic models to identify changes in response bout parameters. The parameters of those models are demonstrated to be uniquely sensitive to different experimental manipulations, such as food deprivation (Chapters 2 and 4), response requirements (Chapters 2, 4, and 5), and reinforcer availability (Chapters 2 and 3). Chapter 6 reveals the response bout parameters that underlie the …

Contributors
Brackney, Ryan, Sanabria, Federico, Smith, Brian H, et al.
Created Date
2015

Evidence from the 20th century demonstrated that early life stress (ELS) produces long lasting neuroendocrine and behavioral effects related to an increased vulnerability towards psychiatric illnesses such as major depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, and substance use disorder. Substance use disorders (SUDs) are complex neurological and behavioral psychiatric illnesses. The development, maintenance, and relapse of SUDs involve multiple brain systems and are affected by many variables, including socio-economic and genetic factors. Pre-clinical studies demonstrate that ELS affects many of the same systems, such as the reward circuitry and executive function involved with addiction-like behaviors. Previous research has focused on …

Contributors
Lewis, Candace R, Olive, M. Foster, Hammer, Ronald, et al.
Created Date
2015

ADHD is a childhood neurobehavioral disorder characterized by inordinate levels of hyperactivity, inattention and impulsivity. The inability to withhold a reinforced response, or response inhibition capacity (RIC), is one aspect of impulsivity associated with ADHD. The first goal of this dissertation was to evaluate the fixed minimum interval (FMI) schedule as a method for assessing RIC. Chapter 2 showed that latencies were substantially more sensitive than FMI-derived estimates of RIC to the effects of pre-feeding and changes in rate and magnitude of reinforcement. Chapter 3 examined the ability of the FMI to discriminate between spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR), an animal …

Contributors
Watterson, Elizabeth, Sanabria, Federico, Olive, Foster, et al.
Created Date
2015

ABSTRACT Auditory hallucinations are a characteristic symptom of schizophrenia. Research has documented that the auditory cortex is metabolically activated when this process occurs, and that imbalances in the dopaminergic transmission in the striatum contribute to its physiopathology. Most animal models have focused the effort on pharmacological approaches like non-competitive N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonists to produce activation of the auditory cortex, or dopamine antagonists to alleviate it. I hypothesize that these perceptual phenomena can be explained by an imbalance activation of spiny projecting neurons in the striatal pathways, whereby supersensitive postsynaptic D2-like receptor, signaling in the posterior caudatoputamen generates activation of …

Contributors
Parga Becerra, Alejandro, Neisewander, Janet, Hammer, Ronald, et al.
Created Date
2014

Globally, addiction to stimulants such as methamphetamine (METH) remains a significant public health problem. Despite decades of research, no approved anti-relapse medications for METH or any illicit stimulant exist, and current treatment approaches suffer from high relapse rates. Recently, synthetic cathinones have also emerged as popular abused stimulants, leading to numerous incidences of toxicity and death. However, contrary to traditional illicit stimulants, very little is known about their addiction potential. Given the high relapse rates and lack of approved medications for METH addiction, chapters 2 and 3 of this dissertation assessed three different glutamate receptor ligands as potential anti-relapse medications …

Contributors
Watterson, Lucas R., Olive, Michael F, Czyzyk, Traci, et al.
Created Date
2014

Following a traumatic brain injury (TBI) 5-50% of patients will develop post traumatic epilepsy (PTE). Pediatric patients are most susceptible with the highest incidence of PTE. Currently, we cannot prevent the development of PTE and knowledge of basic mechanisms are unknown. This has led to several shortcomings to the treatment of PTE, one of which is the use of anticonvulsant medication to the population of TBI patients that are not likely to develop PTE. The complication of identifying the two populations has been hindered by the ability to find a marker to the pathogenesis of PTE. The central hypothesis of …

Contributors
Nichols, Joshua, Anderson, Trent, Neisewander, Janet, et al.
Created Date
2014

Spatiotemporal processing in the mammalian olfactory bulb (OB), and its analog, the invertebrate antennal lobe (AL), is subject to plasticity driven by biogenic amines. I study plasticity using honey bees, which have been extensively studied with respect to nonassociative and associative based olfactory learning and memory. Octopamine (OA) release in the AL is the functional analog to epinephrine in the OB. Blockade of OA receptors in the AL blocks plasticity induced changes in behavior. I have now begun to test specific hypotheses related to how this biogenic amine might be involved in plasticity in neural circuits within the AL. OA …

Contributors
Protas, Danielle Tatiana, Smith, Brian H, Neisewander, Janet, et al.
Created Date
2014

Cells live in complex environments and must be able to adapt to environmental changes in order to survive. The ability of a cell to survive and thrive in a changing environment depends largely on its ability to receive and respond to extracellular signals. Initiating with receptors, signal transduction cascades begin translating extracellular signals into intracellular messages. Such signaling cascades are responsible for the regulation of cellular metabolism, cell growth, cell movement, transcription, translation, proliferation and differentiation. This dissertation seeks to dissect and examine critical signaling pathways involved in the regulation of proliferation in neural stem cells (Chapter 2) and the …

Contributors
Kusne, Yael N., Sanai, Nader, Neisewander, Janet, et al.
Created Date
2014

Specific dendritic morphologies are a hallmark of neuronal identity, circuit assembly, and behaviorally relevant function. Despite the importance of dendrites in brain health and disease, the functional consequences of dendritic shape remain largely unknown. This dissertation addresses two fundamental and interrelated aspects of dendrite neurobiology. First, by utilizing the genetic power of Drosophila melanogaster, these studies assess the developmental mechanisms underlying single neuron morphology, and subsequently investigate the functional and behavioral consequences resulting from developmental irregularity. Significant insights into the molecular mechanisms that contribute to dendrite development come from studies of Down syndrome cell adhesion molecule (Dscam). While these findings …

Contributors
Hutchinson, Katie Marie, Duch, Carsten, Neisewander, Janet, et al.
Created Date
2013

Intermittent social defeat stress induces cross-sensitization to psychostimulants and escalation of drug self-administration. These behaviors could result from the stress-induced neuroadaptation in the mesocorticolimbic dopamine circuit. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) is persistently elevated after social defeat stress, and may contribute to the stress-induced neuroadaptation in the mesocorticolimbic dopamine circuit. BDNF modulates synaptic plasticity, and facilitates stress- and drug-induced neuroadaptations in the mesocorticolimbic system. The present research examined the role of mesolimbic BDNF signaling in social defeat stress-induced cross-sensitization to psychostimulants and the escalation of cocaine self-administration in rats. We measured drug taking behavior with …

Contributors
Wang, Junshi, Hammer, Ronald, Feuerstein, Burt, et al.
Created Date
2013

The maternal separation (MS) paradigm is an animal model of early life stress. Animals subjected to MS during the first two weeks of life display altered behavioral and neuroendocrinological stress responses as adults. MS also produces altered responsiveness to and self-administration (SA) of various drugs of abuse including cocaine, ethanol, opioids, and amphetamine. Methamphetamine (METH) causes great harm to both the individual user and to society; yet, no studies have examined the effects of MS on METH SA. This study was performed to examine the effects of MS on the acquisition of METH SA, extinction, and reinstatement of METH-seeking behavior …

Contributors
Lewis, Candace, Olive, Micheal F, Conrad, Cheryl, et al.
Created Date
2013

Sensory gating is a process by which the nervous system preferentially admits stimuli that are important for the organism while filtering out those that may be meaningless. An optimal sensory gate cannot be static or inflexible, but rather plastic and informed by past experiences. Learning enables sensory gates to recognize stimuli that are emotionally salient and potentially predictive of positive or negative outcomes essential to survival. Olfaction is the only sensory modality in mammals where sensory inputs bypass conventional thalamic gating before entering higher emotional or cognitive brain regions. Thus, olfactory bulb circuits may have a heavier burden of sensory …

Contributors
Li, Monica Mo, Tyler, William J, Smith, Brian H, et al.
Created Date
2012

The failure to withhold inappropriate behavior is a central component of most impulse control disorders, including Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The present study examined the effects of housing environment and methylphenidate (a drug often prescribed for ADHD) on the performance of rats in two response inhibition tasks: differential reinforcement of low rate (DRL) and fixed minimum interval (FMI). Both tasks required rats to wait a fixed amount of time (6 s) before emitting a reinforced response. The capacity to withhold the target response (volitional inhibition) and timing precision were estimated on the basis of performance in each of the …

Contributors
Hill, Jade, Sanabria, Federico, Killeen, Peter, et al.
Created Date
2011