Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Science


Anatomy and Cell Biology


Dr. Susanne Schmid


BK channels are large conductance potassium channels activated by both Ca2+ concentration and membrane depolarization. They recently have been implicated to be involved in sensorimotor gating and higher cognitive function. However, it is not yet clear to what extent these channels affect these functions. The purpose of this study is to assess the role of BK channels in sensorimotor gating and cognitive function. We used a C57BL6 and SV129 hybrid mouse model in which the pore forming alpha subunit was genetically deleted. We employed the acoustic startle response to assess mechanisms of sensory gating (habituation and PPI), and the Y-maze and Morris water maze to test higher cognitive function. We found that BK channel knock-out mice had impaired sensorimotor gating as well as deficits in spatial learning; however their working and spatial reference memory was intact. Thus BK channels seemingly have a crucial role in basic and higher cognitive function.