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J Neurochem. 2007 Sep;102(5):1645-57.

Activation of cholecystokinin neurons in the dorsal pallium of the telencephalon is indispensable for the acquisition of chick imprinting behavior.

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Laboratory of Molecular Neuroscience, School of Biomedical Science and Medical Research Institute, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, Japan.


Chick imprinting behavior is a good model for the study of learning and memory. Imprinting object is recognized and processed in the visual wulst, and the memory is stored in the intermediate medial mesopallium in the dorsal pallium of the telencephalon. We identified chicken cholecystokinin (CCK)-expressing cells localized in these area. The number of CCK mRNA-positive cells increased in chicks underwent imprinting training, and these cells expressed nuclear Fos immunoreactivity at high frequency in these regions. Most of these CCK-positive cells were glutamatergic and negative for parvalbumin immunoreactivity. Semi-quantitative PCR analysis revealed that the CCK mRNA levels were significantly increased in the trained chicks compared with untrained chicks. In contrast, the increase in CCK- and c-Fos-double-positive cells associated with the training was not observed after closure of the critical period. These results indicate that CCK cells in the dorsal pallium are activated acutely by visual training that can elicit imprinting. In addition, the CCK receptor antagonist significantly suppressed the acquisition of memory. These results suggest that the activation of CCK cells in the visual wulst as well as in the intermediate medial mesopallium by visual stimuli is indispensable for the acquisition of visual imprinting.

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