Neural encoding in orbitofrontal cortex and basolateral amygdala during olfactory discrimination learning.
Orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) is part of a network of structures involved in adaptive behavior and decision making. Interconnections between OFC and basolateral amygdala (ABL) may be critical for encoding the motivational significance of stimuli used to guide behavior. Indeed, much research indicates that neurons in OFC and ABL fire selectively to cues based on their associative significance. In the current study recordings were made in each region within a behavioral paradigm that allowed comparison of the development of associative encoding over the course of learning. In each recording session, rats were presented with novel odors that were informative about the outcome of making a response and had to learn to withhold a response after sampling an odor that signaled a negative outcome. In some cases, reversal training was performed in the same session as the initial learning. Ninety-six of the 328 neurons recorded in OFC and 60 of the 229 neurons recorded in ABL exhibited selective activity during evaluation of the odor cues after learning had occurred. A substantial proportion of those neurons in ABL developed selective activity very early in training, and many reversed selectivity rapidly after reversal. In contrast, those neurons in OFC rarely exhibited selective activity during odor evaluation before the rats reached the criterion for learning, and far fewer reversed selectivity after reversal. The findings support a model in which ABL encodes the motivational significance of cues and OFC uses this information in the selection and execution of an appropriate behavioral strategy. (+info)
Frontal cognitive impairments and saccadic deficits in low-dose MPTP-treated monkeys.
There is considerable overlap between the cognitive deficits observed in humans with frontal lobe damage and those described in patients with Parkinson's disease. Similar frontal impairments have been found in the 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3, 6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) primate model of Parkinsonism. Here we provide quantitative documentation of the cognitive, oculomotor, and skeletomotor dysfunctions of monkeys trained on a frontal task and treated with low-doses (LD) of MPTP. Two rhesus monkeys were trained to perform a spatial delayed-response task with frequent alternations between two behavioral modes (GO and NO-GO). After control recordings, the monkeys were treated with one placebo and successive LD MPTP courses. Monkey C developed motor Parkinsonian signs after a fourth course of medium-dose (MD) MPTP and later was treated with combined dopaminergic therapy (CDoT). There were no gross motor changes after the LD MPTP courses, and the average movement time (MT) did not increase. However, reaction time (RT) increased significantly. Both RT and MT were further increased in the symptomatic state, under CDoT. Self-initiated saccades became hypometric after LD MPTP treatments and their frequency decreased. Visually triggered saccades were affected to a lesser extent by the LD MPTP treatments. All saccadic parameters declined further in the symptomatic state and improved partially during CDoT. The number of GO mode (no-response, location, and early release) errors increased after MPTP treatment. The monkeys made more perseverative errors while switching from the GO to the NO-GO mode. Saccadic eye movement patterns suggest that frontal deficits were involved in most observed errors. CDoT had a differential effect on the behavioral errors. It decreased omission errors but did not improve location errors or perseverative errors. Tyrosine hydroxylase immunohistochemistry showed moderate ( approximately 70-80%) reduction in the number of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta after MPTP treatment. These results show that cognitive and motor disorders can be dissociated in the LD MPTP model and that cognitive and oculomotor impairments develop before the onset of skeletal motor symptoms. The behavioral and saccadic deficits probably result from the marked reduction of dopaminergic neurons in the midbrain. We suggest that these behavioral changes result from modified neuronal activity in the frontal cortex. (+info)
Visuomotor processing as reflected in the directional discharge of premotor and primary motor cortex neurons.
Premotor and primary motor cortical neuronal firing was studied in two monkeys during an instructed delay, pursuit tracking task. The task included a premovement "cue period," during which the target was presented at the periphery of the workspace and moved to the center of the workspace along one of eight directions at one of four constant speeds. The "track period" consisted of a visually guided, error-constrained arm movement during which the animal tracked the target as it moved from the central start box along a line to the opposite periphery of the workspace. Behaviorally, the animals tracked the required directions and speeds with highly constrained trajectories. The eye movements consisted of saccades to the target at the onset of the cue period, followed by smooth pursuit intermingled with saccades throughout the cue and track periods. Initially, an analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to test for direction and period effects in the firing. Subsequently, a linear regression analysis was used to fit the average firing from the cue and track periods to a cosine model. Directional tuning as determined by a significant fit to the cosine model was a prominent feature of the discharge during both the cue and track periods. However, the directional tuning of the firing of a single cell was not always constant across the cue and track periods. Approximately one-half of the neurons had differences in their preferred directions (PDs) of >45 degrees between cue and track periods. The PD in the cue or track period was not dependent on the target speed. A second linear regression analysis based on calculation of the preferred direction in 20-ms bins (i.e., the PD trajectory) was used to examine on a finer time scale the temporal evolution of this change in directional tuning. The PD trajectories in the cue period were not straight but instead rotated over the workspace to align with the track period PD. Both clockwise and counterclockwise rotations occurred. The PD trajectories were relatively straight during most of the track period. The rotation and eventual convergence of the PD trajectories in the cue period to the preferred direction of the track period may reflect the transformation of visual information into motor commands. The widely dispersed PD trajectories in the cue period would allow targets to be detected over a wide spatial aperture. The convergence of the PD trajectories occurring at the cue-track transition may serve as a "Go" signal to move that was not explicitly supplied by the paradigm. Furthermore, the rotation and convergence of the PD trajectories may provide a mechanism for nonstandard mapping. Standard mapping refers to a sensorimotor transformation in which the stimulus is the object of the reach. Nonstandard mapping is the mapping of an arbitrary stimulus into an arbitrary movement. The shifts in the PD may allow relevant visual information from any direction to be transformed into an appropriate movement direction, providing a neural substrate for nonstandard stimulus-response mappings. (+info)
Improvement by nefiracetam of beta-amyloid-(1-42)-induced learning and memory impairments in rats.
1. We have previously demonstrated that continuous i.c.v. infusion of amyloid beta-peptide (A beta), the major constituent of senile plaques in the brains of patients with Alzheimer's disease, results in learning and memory deficits in rats. 2. In the present study, we investigated the effects of nefiracetam [N-(2,6-dimethylphenyl)-2-(2-oxo-1-pyrrolidinyl) acetamide, DM-9384] on A beta-(1-42)-induced learning and memory deficits in rats. 3. In the A beta-(1-42)-infused rats, spontaneous alternation behaviour in a Y-maze task, spatial reference and working memory in a water maze task, and retention of passive avoidance learning were significantly impaired as compared with A beta-(40-1)-infused control rats. 4. Nefiracetam, at a dose range of 1-10 mg kg(-1), improved learning and memory deficits in the A beta-(1-42)-infused rats when it was administered p.o. 1 h before the behavioural tests. 5. Nefiracetam at a dose of 3 mg kg(-1) p.o. increased the activity of choline acetyltransferase in the hippocampus of A beta-(1-42)-infused rats. 6. Nefiracetam increased dopamine turnover in the cerebral cortex and striatum of A beta-(1-42)-infused rats, but failed to affect the noradrenaline, serotonin and 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid content. 7. These results suggest that nefiracetam may be useful for the treatment of patients with Alzheimer's disease. (+info)
N-Methyl-D-aspartate antagonists and apoptotic cell death triggered by head trauma in developing rat brain.
Morbidity and mortality from head trauma is highest among children. No animal model mimicking traumatic brain injury in children has yet been established, and the mechanisms of neuronal degeneration after traumatic injury to the developing brain are not understood. In infant rats subjected to percussion head trauma, two types of brain damage could be characterized. The first type or primary damage evolved within 4 hr and occurred by an excitotoxic mechanism. The second type or secondary damage evolved within 6-24 hr and occurred by an apoptotic mechanism. Primary damage remained localized to the parietal cortex at the site of impact. Secondary damage affected distant sites such as the cingulate/retrosplenial cortex, subiculum, frontal cortex, thalamus and striatum. Secondary apoptotic damage was more severe than primary excitotoxic damage. Morphometric analysis demonstrated that the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor antagonists 3-(2-carboxypiperazin-4-yl)-propyl-1-phosphonate and dizocilpine protected against primary excitotoxic damage but increased severity of secondary apoptotic damage. 2-Sulfo-alpha-phenyl-N-tert-butyl-nitrone, a free radical scavenger, did not affect primary excitotoxic damage but mitigated apoptotic damage. These observations demonstrate that apoptosis and not excitotoxicity determine neuropathologic outcome after traumatic injury to the developing brain. Whereas free radical scavengers may prove useful in therapy of head trauma in children, N-methyl-D-aspartate antagonists should be avoided because of their propensity to increase severity of apoptotic damage. (+info)
Crossmodal associative memory representations in rodent orbitofrontal cortex.
Firing patterns of neurons in the orbitofrontal cortex (OF) were analyzed in rats trained to perform a task that encouraged incidental associations between distinct odors and the places where their occurrence was detected. Many of the neurons fired differentially when the animals were at a particular location or sampled particular odors. Furthermore, a substantial fraction of the cells exhibited odor-specific firing patterns prior to odor presentation, when the animal arrived at a location associated with that odor. These findings suggest that neurons in the OF encode cross-modal associations between odors and locations within long-term memory. (+info)
Blind smell: brain activation induced by an undetected air-borne chemical.
EEG and behavioural evidence suggests that air-borne chemicals can affect the nervous system without being consciously detected. EEG and behaviour, however, do not specify which brain structures are involved in chemical sensing that occurs below a threshold of conscious detection. Here we used functional MRI to localize brain activation induced by high and low concentrations of the air-borne compound oestra-1,3,5(10),16-tetraen-3yl acetate. Following presentations of both concentrations, eight of eight subjects reported verbally that they could not detect any odour (P = 0.004). Forced choice detection performed during the presentations revealed above-chance detection of the high concentration, but no better than chance detection of the low concentration compound. Both concentrations induced significant brain activation, primarily in the anterior medial thalamus and inferior frontal gyrus. Activation in the inferior frontal gyrus during the high concentration condition was significantly greater in the right than in the left hemisphere (P = 0.03). A trend towards greater thalamic activation was observed for the high concentration than the low concentration compound (P = 0.08). These findings localize human brain activation that was induced by an undetectable air-borne chemical (the low concentration compound). (+info)
Increased poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation of nuclear proteins in Alzheimer's disease.
Experimental studies indicate that overactivation of the DNA repair protein poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) in response to oxidative damage to DNA can cause cell death due to depletion of NAD+. Oxidative damage to DNA and other macromolecules has been reported to be increased in the brains of patients with Alzheimer's disease. In the present study we sought evidence of PARP activation in Alzheimer's disease by immunostaining sections of frontal and temporal lobe from autopsy material of 20 patients and 10 controls, both for PARP itself and for its end-product, poly(ADP-ribose). All of the brains had previously been subjected to detailed neuropathological examination to confirm the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease or, in the controls, to exclude Alzheimer's disease-type pathology. Double immunolabelling for poly(ADP-ribose) and microtubule-associated protein 2 (MAP2), glial fibrillary-acidic protein (GFAP), CD68, A beta-protein or tau was used to assess the identity of the cells with poly(ADP-ribose) accumulation and their relationship to plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. Both PARP- and poly(ADP-ribose)-immunolabelled cells were detected in a much higher proportion of Alzheimer's disease (20 out of 20) brains than of control brains (5 out of 10) (P = 0.0018). Double-immunolabelling for poly(ADP-ribose) and markers of neuronal, astrocytic and microglial differentiation (MAP2, GFAP and CD68, respectively) showed many of the cells containing poly(ADP-ribose) to be neurons. Most of these were small pyramidal neurons in cortical laminae 3 and 5. A few of the cells containing poly(ADP-ribose) were astrocytes. No poly(ADP-ribose) accumulation was detected in microglia. Double-immunolabelling for poly(ADP-ribose) and tau or A beta-protein indicated that the cells with accumulation of poly(ADP-ribose) did not contain tangles and relatively few occurred within plaques. Our findings indicate that there is enhanced PARP activity in Alzheimer's disease and suggest that pharmacological interventions aimed at inhibiting PARP may have a role in slowing the progression of the disease. (+info)