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PLoS One. 2014 Jan 17;9(1):e85842. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0085842. eCollection 2014.

Acute NMDA receptor antagonism disrupts synchronization of action potential firing in rat prefrontal cortex.

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  • 1Canadian Centre for Behavioural Neuroscience, Department of Neuroscience, University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada.

Erratum in

  • PLoS One. 2014;9(7):e104110.


Antagonists of N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors (NMDAR) have psychotomimetic effects in humans and are used to model schizophrenia in animals. We used high-density electrophysiological recordings to assess the effects of acute systemic injection of an NMDAR antagonist (MK-801) on ensemble neural processing in the medial prefrontal cortex of freely moving rats. Although MK-801 increased neuron firing rates and the amplitude of gamma-frequency oscillations in field potentials, the synchronization of action potential firing decreased and spike trains became more Poisson-like. This disorganization of action potential firing following MK-801 administration is consistent with changes in simulated cortical networks as the functional connections among pyramidal neurons become less clustered. Such loss of functional heterogeneity of the cortical microcircuit may disrupt information processing dependent on spike timing or the activation of discrete cortical neural ensembles, and thereby contribute to hallucinations and other features of psychosis induced by NMDAR antagonists.

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