High-linoleate and high-alpha-linolenate diets affect learning ability and natural behavior in SAMR1 mice.
Semipurified diets incorporating either perilla oil [high in alpha-linolenate, 18:3(n-3)] or safflower oil [high in linoleate, 18:2(n-6)] were fed to senescence-resistant SAMR1 mouse dams and their pups. Male offspring at 15 mo were examined using behavioral tests. In the open field test, locomotor activity during a 5-min period was significantly higher in the safflower oil group than in the perilla oil group. Observations of the circadian rhythm (48 h) of spontaneous motor activity indicated that the safflower oil group was more active than the perilla oil group during the first and second dark periods. The total number of responses to positive and negative stimuli was higher in the safflower oil group than in the perilla oil group in the light and dark discrimination learning test, but the correct response ratio was lower in the safflower oil group. The difference in the (n-6)/(n-3) ratios of the diets reflected the proportions of (n-6) polyunsaturated fatty acids, rather than those of (n-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids in the brain total fatty acids, and in the proportions of (n-6) and (n-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids in the total polyunsaturated fatty acids of the brain phospholipids. These results suggest that in SAMR1 mice, the dietary alpha-linolenate/linoleate balance affects the (n-6)/(n-3) ratio of brain phospholipids, and this may modify emotional reactivity and learning ability. (+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)
Blockade of N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor activation suppresses learning-induced synaptic elimination.
Auditory filial imprinting in the domestic chicken is accompanied by a dramatic loss of spine synapses in two higher associative forebrain areas, the mediorostral neostriatum/hyperstriatum ventrale (MNH) and the dorsocaudal neostriatum (Ndc). The cellular mechanisms that underlie this learning-induced synaptic reorganization are unclear. We found that local pharmacological blockade of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors in the MNH, a manipulation that has been shown previously to impair auditory imprinting, suppresses the learning-induced spine reduction in this region. Chicks treated with the NMDA receptor antagonist 2-amino-5-phosphonovaleric acid (APV) during the behavioral training for imprinting (postnatal day 0-2) displayed similar spine frequencies at postnatal day 7 as naive control animals, which, in both groups, were significantly higher than in imprinted animals. Because the average dendritic length did not differ between the experimental groups, the reduced spine frequency can be interpreted as a reduction of the total number of spine synapses per neuron. In the Ndc, which is reciprocally connected with the MNH and not directly influenced by the injected drug, learning-induced spine elimination was partly suppressed. Spine frequencies of the APV-treated, behaviorally trained but nonimprinted animals were higher than in the imprinted animals but lower than in the naive animals. These results provide evidence that NMDA receptor activation is required for the learning-induced selective reduction of spine synapses, which may serve as a mechanism of information storage specific for juvenile emotional learning events. (+info)
Object location learning and non-spatial working memory of patients with Parkinson's disease may be preserved in "real life" situations.
The presence of a spatial memory deficit in Parkinson's disease (PD) is still a matter of discussion. Nineteen PD patients and 16 controls were given two spatial tests and a non-spatial task. First, the subject was led into a room containing 4 objects and had 10 s to memorize their location. After being led outside, the subject had to place icons representing the objects on a map of the room. Differences between the real and estimated locations were evaluated. Afterwards, the subject had to choose a map showing the correct arrangement of objects from 4 alternatives. Locations of some objects were changed before the second test. The subject had 10 s to detect these changes. One point was given for each change or its absence detected. In the non-spatial working memory task, 8 cards of different shapes were used. The subject had to select a different card each time while the cards were shuffled between choices. Errors consisted of selecting previously chosen cards. The means of the above measures for both groups were compared. Absence of any significant differences suggests that PD patients perform well in "real life" memory tests in contrast to similar computerized tests. (+info)
Cortical function: jump-starting the brain.
Magnetic stimulation as used in studies of the human brain may not merely disrupt cognitive functions, but also enhance them. The direction of the effect may depend on the frequency of stimulation as much as the area of the brain that is stimulated. (+info)
Segregating the functions of human hippocampus.
It is now accepted that hippocampal lesions impair episodic memory. However, the precise functional role of the hippocampus in episodic memory remains elusive. Recent functional imaging data implicate the hippocampus in processing novelty, a finding supported by human in vivo recordings and event-related potential studies. Here we measure hippocampal responses to novelty, using functional MRI (fMRI), during an item-learning paradigm generated from an artificial grammar system. During learning, two distinct types of novelty were periodically introduced: perceptual novelty, pertaining to the physical characteristics of stimuli (in this case visual characteristics), and exemplar novelty, reflecting semantic characteristics of stimuli (in this case grammatical status within a rule system). We demonstrate a left anterior hippocampal response to both types of novelty and adaptation of these responses with stimulus familiarity. By contrast to these novelty effects, we also show bilateral posterior hippocampal responses with increasing exemplar familiarity. These results suggest a functional dissociation within the hippocampus with respect to the relative familiarity of study items. Neural responses in anterior hippocampus index generic novelty, whereas posterior hippocampal responses index familiarity to stimuli that have behavioral relevance (i.e., only exemplar familiarity). These findings add to recent evidence for functional segregation within the human hippocampus during learning. (+info)
Seasonal neuroplasticity in the songbird telencephalon: a role for melatonin.
Neuroplasticity in the vocal control system of songbirds is strongly influenced by seasonal fluctuations in circulating testosterone. These seasonally plastic telencephalic structures are implicated in the learning and production of song in songbirds. The role of the indoleamine melatonin in seasonal adaptations in birds has remained unclear. In this experiment, European starlings were castrated to remove the neuromodulating activity of gonadal steroids and were exposed to different photoperiods to induce reproductive states characteristic of different seasonal conditions. Long days increased the volume of the song-control nucleus high vocal center compared with its volume on short days. Exogenous melatonin attenuated the long-day-induced volumetric increase in high vocal center and also decreased the volume of another song-control nucleus, area X. This effect was observed regardless of reproductive state. To our knowledge, this is the first direct evidence of a role for melatonin in functional plasticity within the central nervous system of vertebrates. (+info)
Is integer arithmetic fundamental to mental processing?: the mind's secret arithmetic.
Unlike the ability to acquire our native language, we struggle to learn multiplication and division. It may then come as a surprise that the mental machinery for performing lightning-fast integer arithmetic calculations could be within us all even though it cannot be readily accessed, nor do we have any idea of its primary function. We are led to this provocative hypothesis by analysing the extraordinary skills of autistic savants. In our view such individuals have privileged access to lower levels of information not normally available through introspection. (+info)