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Behav Brain Res. 2002 Aug 21;134(1-2):93-112.

Cholinergic receptor blockade in prefrontal cortex and lesions of the nucleus basalis: implications for allocentric and egocentric spatial memory in rats.

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Departamento de Neurociencia y Ciencias de la Salud, Universidad de Almería, Ctra del Sacramento s/n, 04120 Almería, Spain.


In this study we have examined the involvement of the prefrontal cortex (PFC) along with the Nucleus basalis magnocellularis (NBM) in two types of spatial navigation tasks. We evaluated the effects of excitotoxic (ibotenate-induced) lesions of the NBM in an allocentric and an egocentric task in the Morris water maze, using sham operations for a comparison. In both cases we also assessed the effects of local cholinergic receptor blockade in the PFC by infusing the muscarinic receptor antagonist scopolamine (4 or 20 microg). Anatomically, the results obtained showed that this lesion produced a profound loss of acetylcholinesterase (AChE) positive cells in the NBM, and a loss of AChE positive fibres in most of the neocortex, but hardly in the medial PFC. Behaviourally, such lesions led to a severe impairment in the allocentric task. Intraprefrontal infusions of scopolamine led to a short-lasting impairment in task performance when the high dose was used. In the second experiment, using the same surgical manipulations, we examined the performance in the egocentric task. Like in the allocentric task animals with NBM lesions were also impaired, but with continued training they acquired a level of performance similar to the sham-operated ones. This time, infusions of scopolamine in the medial PFC led to a severe disruption of performance in both groups of animals. We conclude that acetylcholine in the medial PFC is important for egocentric but not allocentric spatial memory, whereas the NBM is involved in the learning of both tasks, be it to a different degree.

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