Date of Award

Spring 2016

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science



First Advisor

Dr. J. Harry Blaise

Second Advisor

Dr. Kent Dunlap

Third Advisor

Dr. Hebe Guardiola-Diaz


The synapse from the perforant path to the dentate gyrus has been widely used successfully to demonstrate long-term potentiation, a cellular model underlying learning and memory. Caffeine is one of the most widely consumed psychoactive stimulants in the world. Caffeine consumption increases in alertness, improvements in motor skills, and neurological functions, and these effects have promoted its use throughout history. Although the many short term cognitive benefits of caffeine intake are well understood, the long term effects of caffeine exposure have been widely disputed. Despite this, it is estimated that over 80% of women continue to consume caffeine throughout pregnancy.

The objective of this experiment was to determine the effects of perinatal caffeine exposure on long term potentiation in adult, freely behaving male rats. Caffeine water (1.0g/L) was administered to pregnant dams and continued until 21 days after the birth of the pups, at which time the pups reverted to normal water. Once the pups reached 70-120 days, stereotaxic surgery was performed on males to implant electrodes into the dentate gyrus and perforant path. After a week of recovery, the population spike amplitude was measured before and after high frequency stimulation to determine LTP levels. LTP level was significantly lower for the early caffeine exposed rats (n=11, p value


Senior thesis completed at Trinity College, Hartford Connecticut for the degree of Bachelor of Science in Biology.