The role of dopamine in learning and memory in Caenorhabditis elegans

Dopamine is a chemical (neurotransmitter) that transmits signals between brain cells. Dopamine is involved in motor control, emotion, motivation, cognition, learning and memory. Fluctuations in the level of dopamine in the brain is associated with many conditions that involve deficits in learning and memory, including schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and drug addiction. Andrew Giles is studying how dopamine acts to produce learning and memory in C.elegans, a microscopic worm with a nervous system similar to that of humans. Andrew is examining how changes in the levels of dopamine affect the completion of learning and memory tasks. This information will help explain how dopamine functions in human learning and memory, and its role in normal and abnormal behaviours. The results could support the development of new treatments for disorders involving memory and learning deficits.