Dopaminergic drugs reverse the impairment of radial-arm maze performance caused by lesions involving the cholinergic medial pathway.
Pharmacological studies have shown that both cholinergic and dopaminergic transmitter systems are crucial for optimal choice accuracy in the radial-arm maze and that these systems interact in a complex fashion. Lesion studies have provided evidence that the basal nuclear complex of the forebrain, the origin of cholinergic projections to the cerebral mantle, may be critical for the cholinergic modulation of learning and memory. We have shown that knife-cut lesions of the medial cholinergic pathway significantly impair radial-arm maze choice accuracy performance. The current study examined the effectiveness of D1 and D2 ligands in counteracting this lesion-induced deficit. The adverse effects of medial cholinergic pathway lesions were diminished or reversed by daily treatment with a D1 agonist (SKF 38393), a D2 agonist (LY 171555) or a D1 antagonist (SCH 23390), but were not affected by treatment with a D2 antagonist (raclopride). The three beneficial treatments have previously been found to attenuate the adverse effects of nictonic or muscarinic blockade on choice accuracy performance in the radial-arm maze. The finding that these dopaminergic drugs ameliorate the memory deficit caused by lesions involving the cholinergic medial pathway suggests the importance of interactions between cholinergic and dopaminergic systems in radial-arm maze performance. These results may provide leads for the development of novel therapeutic approaches for treating human disorders thought to result from cholinergic hypofunction.
McGurk, SR; Levin, ED; Butcher, LL
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