Effects of the nicotinic receptor blocker mecamylamine on radial-arm maze performance in rats.
Lesions of cholinergic neurons have been found by many investigators to impair choice accuracy in the radial arm maze. Because muscarinic receptor blockers, such as scopolamine, have also repeatedly been found to impair choice accuracy in the radial-arm maze, it has generally been thought that the critical effect of cholinergic lesions is the deafferentation of muscarinic receptors. The possible involvement of nicotinic receptors in the cholinergic bases of cognitive performance in the radial-arm maze has not been as well investigated. The present study examined the effects of the blockade of nicotinic receptors on performance of female Sprague-Dawley rats in the radial-arm maze. Acute administration of the the nicotinic receptor blocker, mecamylamine (10 mg/kg) was found to significantly impair radial-arm maze choice accuracy. This dose also caused a significant increase in response latency in the maze. The effect on choice behavior but not locomotor speed seemed to be due to the central effects of mecamylamine, because administration of the peripheral nicotine receptor blocker, hexamethonium (20 mg/kg), did not impair choice accuracy, even though it did increase response latency to a similar degree as the 10-mg/kg dose of mecamylamine. Lower doses of mecamylamine (2.5 and 5 mg/kg) did not impair choice accuracy. These results indicate that central nicotinic as well as muscarinic cholinergic receptors are involved with cognitive functioning.
Levin, ED; Castonguay, M; Ellison, GD
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