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J Neurosci. 2005 Feb 23;25(8):1985-91.

Locus ceruleus activation suppresses feedforward interneurons and reduces beta-gamma electroencephalogram frequencies while it enhances theta frequencies in rat dentate gyrus.

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Department of Psychology, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada A1B 3X9.


The locus ceruleus is activated by novel stimuli, and its activation promotes learning and memory. Phasic activation of locus ceruleus neurons by glutamate enhances the dentate gyrus population spike amplitude and results in long-term potentiation of synaptic responses recorded after 24 h. Cholinergic activation of locus ceruleus neurons increases hippocampal . At the level of the cellular network, it is not clear how the potentiating effects of norepinephrine are mediated. Previous studies show that exogenous norepinephrine enhances inhibitory interneuron firing in the dentate gyrus. This finding appears at odds with evidence for potentiation. In this study, natural release of norepinephrine was induced by glutamate activation of locus ceruleus while we recorded EEGs and physiologically identified interneurons in the dentate gyrus of urethane-anesthetized rats. Feedforward neurons were inhibited (approximately 1-2 min) by locus ceruleus activation. Feedback interneurons showed both increased and decreased activity, whereas granule cells increased firing as predicted by evoked potential studies. EEG results replicated an increase in power (4-8 Hz) with locus ceruleus activation, but the effect with glutamatergic locus ceruleus activation was transient (approximately 1-2 min). Beta-gamma Frequencies were also transiently suppressed. Together, the data suggest that locus ceruleus activation enhances the throughput of concomitant sensory input by reducing feedforward inhibitory interneuron activity, which may reduce "binding" in existing cell assemblies, and enhances the conditions for synaptic plasticity through disinhibition, promotion of 4-8 Hz , and noradrenergic potentiation to facilitate the building of new representations.

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