Gill TM, Yurrita MM, Givens B (2000) Attentional demand-related alterations in medial prefrontal neural activity of aged rats during sustained visual attention. Neuroscience 2000 Abstracts 837.6. Society for Neuroscience, New Orleans, LA.
Summary: Neural activity within the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) exhibits distinct relationships to sustained visual attentional performance in young male Long-Evans rats. Cortical cholinergic input substantially modulates attentional performance, mPFC neural activity, and attentional-demand related alterations in mPFC neural activity. The present study sought to investigate the relationship between sustained attention, mPFC neural activity, and cholinergic input within aged rats. Rats were operantly trained to discriminate between the presence and absence of brief, unpredictable visual signals under testing conditions that varied the level of attentional demand by the presence of a visual distractor. Aged rats were bilaterally implanted with pairs of stereotrodes into the mPFC at 25 months. The overall firing rate of mPFC units recorded during sustained attention was higher in the aged rats (2.39 spikes/s) relative to young rats (1.65 spikes/s). Moreover, a larger percentage of mPFC units exhibited attentional demand-related increases or decreases in firing rate in the aged rats (29%) relative to young rats (18%). Conversely, the magnitude of attentional demand-related increases in activity was smaller in the aged rats (64% increase) relative to young rats (81% increase). The modulatory role of cortical cholinergic input on the overall firing and attentional demand-related alterations in mPFC activity will also be determined and contrasted to the effects in young rats using 192 IgG-saporin infusions into the mPFC.
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