2024 Grass Fellow Fabian Vergara-Ovalle

Jose Fabian Vergara-Ovalle


Department: Neurosciences
Start Year: 2024
Starting Institution: National Autonomous University of Mexico
Current Institution: National Autonomous University of Mexico
Project Title: Immediate Early Genes in Octopus Learning and Memory

Immediate Early Genes (IEGs) are genes that exhibit rapid and transient expression following neuronal stimulation. IEGs have proven valuable in elucidating the neuronal networks involved in memory formation across various animal models. However, specific IEGs for octopuses have not yet been established. Although, some genes that could be shared as IEGs have recently been described in octopuses, for example CREB and C/EBP. Consequently, the following question arises: Do octopuses induce the expression of IEGs, especially CREB and C/EBP, during their learning and memory processes? I will address this question on both behavioral and cellular levels, through memory tasks and an ARN marking technique known as in situ hybridization (ISH). This method will enable the identification, at a cellular level, of structures activated during a memory task in octopuses. Discovering these IEGs in the octopus’ brain will provide insights into the neurons and regions of the nervous system that underlie cognitive abilities within this significant animal group. Moreover, it will contribute to a deeper understanding of human cognition.