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Lesions of the dorsal noradrenergic bundle impair attentional set-shifting in the rat

Tait DS, Brown VJ, Farovik A, Theobald DE, Dalley JW, Robbins TW (2006) Lesions of the dorsal noradrenergic bundle impair attentional set-shifting in the rat. Neuroscience 2006 Abstracts 264.4. Society for Neuroscience, Atlanta, GA.

Summary: Rats with medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) lesions are impaired in attentional set shifting (Birrell and Brown, 2000, J Nsci, 20:4320-4324). The mPFC receives multiple projections, but norepinephrine (NE) has previously been reported to modulate attention by its action in the mPFC (for review see Dalley et al., 2004, Nsci Biobeh Rev, 28:771-784), including shifting attentional set. Indeed, there is recent evidence that increasing NE in the mPFC by autoreceptor antagonism improves set-shifting performance in rats (Lapiz and Morilak, 2006, Nsci, 137:1039-1049). Furthermore, reduction of prefrontal NE by infusion of anti-DBH-saporin into PFC has been shown to impair attentional set-shifting in rats (Eichenbaum et al., 2003, SfN Abstract 940.7). The main source of noradrenergic input to the mPFC is from locus coerulus via the dorsal noradrenergic bundle (DNAB). This study examined the effect of lesions of the DNAB on the acquisition, maintenance and shifting of attentional set. Eleven male Lister-hooded rats received bilateral DNAB lesions by infusion of 6-hydroxydopamine (4μg in 2μl each side) at (nosebar -2.4mm) AP -6.0mm, ML ±1.0mm, DV -5.0mm (from dura). Twelve control rats received injections of vehicle. Rats learned to dig for bait in bowls then learned two simple discriminations – based on the bowls odor or the digging substrate – to a criterion of six consecutive correct trials. The next day, a series of discriminations tested acquisition of novel discriminations (both intra (ID) and extradimensional (ED)) and reversal learning. Trials to criterion, incorrect trials and dig-latencies were recorded and analysed. At conclusion of testing, brain tissue samples were analysed for NE content by HPLC-ECD. All rats required more trials to reverse previously learned associations, and to learn new discriminations when attentional refocusing was required (ED shift). Rats with DNAB lesions were unimpaired at reversal stages, but were impaired at the ED acquisition stage. Lesioned rats showed reductions of NE levels in mPFC (up to 95% in the infralimbic region, 89% in the prelimbic region and 93% in cingulate area Cg1). These data provide further evidence for the role of NE in attentional set-shifting, and combine with previous data to elucidate the mechanisms by which mPFC mediates attentional set-shifting in the rat.

Related Products: Anti-DBH-SAP (Cat. #IT-03)

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