Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Sandra Watson

Reader 2

Tom Borowski


Sleep is regulated by complex neuronal pathways involving dopamine and N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors. While the interaction between these systems impacts sleep regulation, the exact molecular mechanisms remain unclear.

Using Drosophila melanogaster models, we investigated the interplay between dopamine and NMDA receptors in sleep regulation. We examined NMDA receptor knockdown effects in tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) neurons and L-Dopa/Carbidopa treatment impacts on sleep parameters across genotypes. Our focus was on understanding how NMDA receptors and dopamine signaling affect sleep-regulating networks.

Results showed genotype-dependent differences in activity levels and sleep bout length. NMDA receptor knockdown in TH neurons increased activity when fed L-Dopa/Carbidopa and decreased sleep bout length on control food. L-Dopa/Carbidopa treatment reduced sleep fraction across all genotypes.

We suggest that L-Dopa/Carbidopa treatment modulates sleep behavior in Drosophila through its effects on NMDA receptor function and dopamine signaling. Future research should investigate specific molecular pathways, expand to other genetic models and model organisms, explore potential therapeutic applications, and examine other neurotransmitter systems in sleep regulation.

Our study contributes valuable knowledge on the role of NMDA receptors and dopamine signaling in sleep regulation, providing a foundation for future research and informing the development of tailored treatments for sleep disorders and related neurological conditions.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.