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Brain Res. 1993 Jun 18;614(1-2):191-6.

Reserpine impairs spatial working memory performance in monkeys: reversal by the alpha 2-adrenergic agonist clonidine.

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  • 1Kunming Institute of Zoology, Academia Sinica, Yunnan, China.


Repeated daily treatment with the catecholamine-depleting agent, reserpine, dramatically reduced performance on the delayed response task, a test of spatial working memory that depends upon the integrity of the prefrontal cortex. Delayed response performance fell from an average of 27.2/30 trials correct before reserpine treatment to an average of 20.4/30 trials correct after repeated reserpine administration. Injection of the alpha 2-adrenergic agonist, clonidine (0.0001-0.05 mg/kg), to chronic reserpine-treated monkeys significantly restored performance on the delayed response task; performance after an optimal dose averaged 27.8/30 trials correct. Clonidine's beneficial effects on delayed response performance were longlasting; monkeys remained improved for more than 24 h after a single clonidine injection. The finding that clonidine is efficacious in reserpinized animals supports the hypothesis that alpha 2-adrenergic agonists improve cognitive function through actions at postsynaptic, alpha 2-adrenergic receptors on non-adrenergic cells. In contrast to the delayed response task, reserpine had little effect on performance of a visual discrimination task, a reference memory task which does not depend on the prefrontal cortex. These results emphasize the importance of postsynaptic, alpha 2-adrenergic mechanisms in the regulation of working memory.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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