Ljubojevic V, De Rosa E, Luu P (2011) Cholinergic modulation of cross-modal attentional orienting. Neuroscience 2011 Abstracts 294.07. Society for Neuroscience, Washington, DC.
Summary: We modified the classic cued target detection paradigm, using odor cues to predict a visual target, to examine cholinergic modulation of attentional control signals. It has been proposed that without ACh top-down processing will inappropriately dominate in the presence of a low validity cue, i.e., the cue will still drive attention. Thus, we reduced central cholinergic influences in rats after they acquired high validity cues to examine whether top-down processing would dominate even when these same cues changed to a lower validity. The validity effect (VE = invalid cue RT – valid cue RT) is thought to measure the ability to reorient attention, i.e., it reflects the time a subject needs to disengage from an invalidly cued location and shift attention to the actual target location. We trained 8 male Long-Evans rats until they reached the stable performance under baseline conditions: cue validity (CV) = 100%, target duration = 1s. Then we simultaneously manipulated the rats’ cholinergic system and cue validity within a testing session in a 3×3 repeated measures design. The three drug conditions were: muscarinic antagonist scopolamine (0.2mg/kg), muscarinic antagonist methylscopolamine as a peripheral nervous system control (0.2mg/kg), and saline. CV in each session was set to 100%, 75%, or 50%. In sessions with the lower cue validity of 75% and 50%, rats with scopolamine showed the predicted higher validity effect when compared to their performance with the control drugs. Based on the increased VE in scopolamine condition, we conclude that ACh plays a role in attentional orienting when cue and target are presented in a different sensory modality. We hypothesize that scopolamine may have exacerbated the top-down expectations from the cue and increased the validity effect. Thus, we are collecting data from rats that had selective cholinergic lesions of the nucleus basalis magnocellularis, which provides ACh input into the neocortex, with the cholinergic immunotoxin 192 IgG-saporin to support this pharmacological effect. We expect that NBM-ACh-lesioned rats will also have an increased validity effect as the CV decreases relative to the sham-lesioned rats. Also, we will collect the data from 8 additional rats to increase the statistical power of the experiment.
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