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Integr Physiol Behav Sci. 2002 Oct-Dec;37(4):293-310.

Blockade of GABAA receptors in the interpositus nucleus modulates expression of conditioned excitation but not conditioned inhibition of the eyeblink response.

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Department of Psychology, University of Iowa, Iowa City 52242, USA.


The cerebellum and related brainstem structures are essential for excitatory eyeblink conditioning. Recent evidence indicates that the cerebellar interpositus and lateral pontine nuclei may also play critical roles in conditioned inhibition (CI) of the eyeblink response. The current study examined the role of GABAergic inhibition of the interpositus nucleus in retention of CI. Male Long-Evans rats were implanted with a cannula positioned just above or in the anterior interpositus nucleus before training. The rats were trained with two different tones and a light as conditioned stimuli, and a periorbital shock as the unconditioned stimulus. CI training consisted of four phases: 1) excitatory conditioning (8 kHz tone paired with shock); 2) feature-negative discrimination (2 kHz tone paired with shock or 2 kHz tone concurrent with light); 3) summation test (8 kHz tone or 8 kHz tone concurrent with light); and 4) retardation test (light paired with shock). After reaching a criterion level of performance on the feature-negative discrimination (40% discrimination), 0.5 microl picrotoxin (a GABAA receptor antagonist) was infused at one of four concentrations, each concentration infused during separate test sessions. Picrotoxin transiently impaired conditioned responses during trials with the excitatory stimulus (tone) in a dose-dependent manner, but did not significantly impact responding to the inhibitory compound stimulus (tone-light). The results suggest that expression of conditioned inhibition of the eyeblink conditioned response does not require GABAergic inhibition of neurons in the anterior interpositus nucleus.

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