Date of Award


Degree Name

Biological Sciences


College of Science

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Brian Antonsen

Second Advisor

Marcia Harrison-Pitaniello

Third Advisor

David Mallory


The lateral giant neuron in the crayfish is a neuron that controls the reflexive escape response; the context and experience-dependent tuning of this response is critical for survival. Serotonin modulates synaptic responses in this neuron, and social experiences (stress) changes the modulatory role of serotonin. I investigated the mechanisms of induced synaptic response changes and serotonergic modulatory changes after silver nanoparticle exposure to ask if 1) contaminant induced stress changes serotonergic modulation in a manner consistent with social stress and 2) shed light on potential neurotoxic effects of widely used, but poorly understood nanomaterials. Our data show that stress induced by exposure to silver nanoparticles changes excitability of this neuron. Integrating these data concerning environmental stress with prior knowledge of behavioral and electrophysiological correlates of social stress we can ask if changes induced in synaptic responses and modulation induced by stressors of different kinds are generalizable.


Crayfish culture.