Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Wallace, Douglas G.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology


Wandering is the most life-threatening and commonly reported symptom of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by an inability to maintain spatial orientation. The often deadly consequences of wandering are projected to rise in the coming decades due to the advancing aged population. These upcoming challenges necessitate a more comprehensive understanding of the neurobiology of spatial orientation in order to evaluate novel therapeutic techniques for symptoms such as wandering. The inability to maintain spatial orientation in AD may be due to the pathological degeneration of the hippocampal cholinergic system. This neurological system is conserved across species for its function in processing self-movement cues to maintain spatial orientation. The current study investigated the role of medial septum cholinergic projections to the hippocampus in processing self-movement cues in female and male rats. Additionally, this study evaluated sequential exploration under dark conditions as a novel behavioral assessment for hippocampal cholinergic function. Rats aged between 90-143 days received selective lesions to the medial septum cholinergic system with the immunotoxin 192 IgG-saporin or a sham lesion using saline. Two weeks following the operation, rats explored a completely dark environment for offline analysis of topographic and kinematic movement organization. Immunotoxin lesions resulted in significantly decreased hippocampal cholinergic density; however, movement organization was not disrupted. The results of this study suggest that sequential exploration under dark conditions is not sensitive in assessing hippocampal cholinergic function.


88 pages




Northern Illinois University

Rights Statement

In Copyright

Rights Statement 2

NIU theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from Huskie Commons for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without the written permission of the authors.

Media Type