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Keywords:

  • behavioural imprinting;
  • domestic chick;
  • IMHV;
  • learning;
  • PCR-Select

Abstract

Previous work has identified the intermediate and medial part of the hyperstriatum ventrale (IMHV) as a region of the chick brain storing information acquired through the learning process of imprinting. We have examined in this brain region changes in expression of candidate genes involved in memory. Chicks were exposed to a rotating red box and the strength of their preference for it, a measure of learning, determined. Brain samples were removed ≈24 h after training. Candidate genes whose expressions were different in IMHV samples derived from strongly imprinted chicks relative to those from chicks showing little or no learning were identified using subtractive hybridization. The translation products of two candidate genes were investigated further in samples from the left and right IMHV and from two other brain regions not previously implicated in imprinting, the left and right posterior neostriatum. One of the proteins was the amyloid precursor protein (APP), the other was myristoylated alanine rich C kinase substrate (MARCKS). In the left IMHV the levels of the two proteins increased with the strength of learning. The effects in the right IMHV were not significantly different from those in the left. There were no effects of learning in the posterior neostriatum. This is the first study to relate changes in the amounts of MARCKS and APP proteins to the strength of learning in a brain region known to be a memory store and demonstrates that the systematic identification of protein molecules involved in memory formation is possible.