Date Thesis Awarded

5-2017

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelors of Science (BS)

Department

Neuroscience

Advisor

Joshua Burk

Committee Member

Gregory Smith

Committee Member

Matthew Haug

Abstract

Huntington’s disease (HD) is a debilitating neurodegenerative disease that is part of a class of diseases affecting the basal ganglia, a group of subcortical structures in the brain. Impaired negative emotion recognition is a common and early symptom of HD, and entails the patient being unable to properly identify negative emotions on human faces. Through analysis of cell label patterns in a macaque cortex with a retrograde tracer, a region in the ventromedial striatum has been identified with the potential to function as a critical hub in the emotion processing networks. This region of the striatum receives projections from cortical and subcortical regions involved with emotion processing, including the amygdala, ventromedial prefrontal cortex, orbitofrontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex, and temporal lobe. Analysis of the region of the striatum receiving the projections above will be evaluated to provide more insight into the link between the progression of the pathophysiology of HD and the symptoms of HD over time. The identification of this hub has the potential to broaden our understanding of symptomatology and progression in HD, contribute to other projects in neuropsychiatric disorders involving the striatum, and provide further data for the study of brain connectivity as a whole.

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