Nicotinic-glutamatergic interactions and attentional performance on an operant visual signal detection task in female rats.
Nicotinic systems have been shown to be critically involved in cognitive function including attention. Nicotine has been shown to improve performance on attentional tasks in humans with Alzheimer's disease, schizophrenia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Nicotine has mixed effects on attentional accuracy in unimpaired rats with findings of increased, reduced or unaltered accuracy under different conditions. Nicotine effects on attentional function in rats might be more clearly seen in reversing impaired performance. The current study determined nicotine effects on attentional accuracy reduced by the NMDA receptor antagonist dizocilpine (MK-801). Sprague-Dawley rats (N=35) were trained on a food-motivated two-lever operant task with one lever correct after a brief visual signal (0.027-1.22 lx) for hits and the other lever correct after the absence of a signal for correct rejections. First, a dose response study of dizocilpine was conducted to determine the threshold for impairment. The rats were administered acute doses of dizocilpine (0, 12.5, 25 and 50 microg/kg, sc). The 50 microg/kg dose caused significant (p<0.0005) reduction in percent hit at the four highest signal intensities. Percent correct rejection was also significantly lowered by this dose (p<0.005). No effect was seen with 12.5 microg/kg and only minimal effect seen with 25 microg/kg. Then, nicotine-dizocilpine interactions were investigated. The rats were administered acute doses of dizocilpine (0, 37.5 and 50 microg/kg, sc) and nicotine (0, 25 and 50 microg/kg, sc), alone or in combination. Percent hit was affected by nicotine and dizocilpine in a complex fashion with only the nicotinexdizocilpinexsignal intensity interaction being significant (p<0.05). Percent correct rejection showed a more straightforward effect. Percent correct rejection was significantly reduced by 50 microg/kg dizocilpine (p<0.025). The addition of 25 microg/kg of nicotine significantly (p<0.025) reversed the dizocilpine-induced reduction of correct rejection. This study shows that dizocilpine reduces signal detection accuracy in a dose-dependent fashion. Nicotine can partially counteract an aspect of this reduction by reversing the dizocilpine-induced reduction of correct rejection.
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