The Effects of Tik Tok Exposure on Vesicular Monoamine Transporter (VMAT) Gene Expression and Aggressive/Anxious Behavior in Drosophila melanogaster

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Authors
Armstrong, Isaac
Hartwig, Iris
Advisor
Otto-Hitt, Stefanie
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Date of Issue
2023-04-28
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Title
The Effects of Tik Tok Exposure on Vesicular Monoamine Transporter (VMAT) Gene Expression and Aggressive/Anxious Behavior in Drosophila melanogaster
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Description
Abstract
Tik Tok, a social media platform designed as an endless stream of short-form video content, was the most downloaded app globally in 2021 (Statista 2022). Along with the increasing popularity and use of social media among teenagers and young adults, the past 25 years have shown a 70% increase in the prevalence of anxious and depressive symptoms in young populations (Keles et al. 2020). Additional research has found connections between social media use and physiological distress including anxiety, depression, stress, negative social comparisons, and decreased life satisfaction (Keles et al. 2020; Chung-Ying et al. 2021; Fardouly et al. 2018). The goal of this study was to measure the effect of Tik Tok exposure on aggression, anxiety, and Vesicular Monoamine Transporter (VMAT) expression in Drosophila melanogaster (the common fruit fly). We hypothesized that Tik Tok exposure would increase aggressive and anxious behaviors in D. melanogaster and increase VMAT expression resulting in higher levels of dopamine and octopamine transport into synaptic vesicles. To test our hypothesis, experimental flies were exposed to Tik Tok for 10 minutes and recorded to track their aggressive interactions and anxious wall-following behavior. To analyze VMAT expression, RNA extraction and RT-qPCR was performed on the flies after the behavioral assays. The results of our study indicate there is no significant difference in anxious behavior or expression of the VMAT gene after exposure to Tik Tok. Significantly, an increase in aggressive interactions was observed following Tik Tok exposure.
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Spring
Department
Biology