Quick Project Snapshot

Effect of orexin dual antagonists on emotive memory

This project is suitable for someone looking to do their Masters.

Sleep is important in the consolidation of memory. The role of non-REM sleep in the consolidation of declarative memory is well documented. However, although REM sleep has been proposed to consolidate non-declarative, procedural and emotional memories, much debate remains.

The vast majority of studies investigating REM and memory have drawn their conclusions from pharmacological agents that suppress REM sleep (such as benzodiazepines or antidepressants). In 2015 a new sleep-inducing compound entered the pharmaceutical market.

Suvorexant from Merck is dual orexin1/2 receptor antagonist (DORA), representing a mechanism for inducing sleep that is wholly distinct from currently available hypnotics. Preclinical and clinical studies with suvorexant, however, indicate that the majority of the induced sleep is REM sleep, rather than non-REM sleep. DORAs are thus one of the very few known pharmacological agents that enhance REM sleep.

DORAs therefore provide an ideal alternative and previously unexplored avenue to examine the effect of REM sleep on memory consolidation.

This project uses DORA to enhance REM sleep and focuses on the effects on emotive memory, primarily because REM sleep abnormalities are common in psychiatric disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, and because this highly vulnerable patient group suffer from inabilities in the extinction of aversive memories.

Furthermore, they are prone to the frequent use (and miss-use) of hypnotics, and as such are likely to investigate DORAs. This project evaluates the effect of DORAs on consolidation of emotive memory in rodent fear conditioning and other aversive learning models.

The student will acquire in vivo pharmacology skills, behavioural testing and Western blotting techniques.

Supervisor:   Dr Laura Jacobson

Email: laura.jacobson@florey.edu.au

Telephone:  90356674

Location: Florey institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health / Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics

Co-Supervisor(s):    Prof Daniel Hoyer, Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics

Dr Laura Jacobson

Sleep and Cognition

Our lab focuses on the role of sleep in memory, affect and neurodegenerative disease. Current work investigates the neurobiology of the neuropeptide orexin on sleep, in particular the influences of orexin receptor antagonists on sleep quality and subsequent performance in tests of memory and emotion in animal models. This work expands into investigations of the role of the orexin system in Alzheimer’s disease and Frontotemporal dementia, and explores the potential of orexin receptor antagonists to modulate disease progression in mouse models of these diseases.


All Projects by this Lab

Effect of orexin dual antagonists on emotive memory


The Florey's Epilepsy division is a world-leading centre for epilepsy research. The division has major groups at both the Florey’s Austin and Parkville campus. The group studies mechanisms that cause epilepsy from the level of cells to the function of the whole brain. We use technologies including advanced MRI and cutting edge cellular physiology techniques to allow us to understand genetic and acquired mechanisms that give rise to epilepsy. Together with our colleagues from The University of Melbourne and across Australia we are working towards finding a cure for epilepsy.

All Labs that operate in this Division

Epilepsy Cognition LaboratoryEpilepsy Neuroinformatics LaboratoryImaging and EpilepsyInnate Phagocytosis LaboratoryIon Channels and Human Diseases LaboratoryNeural Networks LaboratoryNeurophysiology of Excitable Networks LaboratoryPsychology and Experimental NeurophysiologySleep and CognitionTraumatic Brain Injury Laboratory