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Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2008 Feb;89(2):87-94. Epub 2007 Jul 16.

Hippocampal alpha 5 subunit-containing GABA A receptors are involved in the development of the latent inhibition effect.

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Laboratory of Behavioral Neurobiology, ETH Zurich, Schwerzenbach, Switzerland.


Hippocampal GABA(A) receptors containing the alpha 5 subunit have been implicated in the modulation of hippocampal-dependent learning, presumably via their tonic inhibitory influence on hippocampal glutamatergic activity. Here, we examined the expression of latent inhibition (LI)--a form of selective learning that is sensitive to a number of manipulations targeted at the hippocampal formation, in alpha 5(H105R) mutant mice with reduced levels of hippocampal alpha 5-containing GABA(A) receptors. A single pre-exposure to the taste conditioned stimulus (CS) prior to the pairing of the same CS with LiCl-induced nausea was effective in reducing the conditioned aversion against the taste CS in wild-type mice--thus constituting the LI effect. LI was however distinctly absent in male alpha 5(H105R) mutant mice. Hence, a partial loss of hippocampal alpha 5 GABA(A) receptors is sufficient to alter one major form of selective learning, albeit this was not seen in the female. This observed phenotype suggests that specific activation of these extrasynaptic GABA(A) receptors may confer therapeutic potential against the failure to show selectivity in learning by human psychotic patients.

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