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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Jul 20;107(29):13141-6. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1004829107. Epub 2010 Jul 12.

Neurofibromin regulates corticostriatal inhibitory networks during working memory performance.

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Department of Neurobiology, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.


Neurofibromatosis type I (NF1) is one of the most common single-gene causes of learning disabilities. Here, we use behavioral working memory probes and electrophysiological studies in a mouse model of NF1 (Nf1 heterozygous null mutants; Nf1(+/-)) to demonstrate that (i) Neurofibromin regulates prefrontal and striatal inhibitory networks, specifically activity-dependent GABA release and (ii) is required for working memory performance, with inhibition-dependent working memory deficits seen in Nf1(+/-) mice. We find that increased inhibition in medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) is sufficient to alter persistent activity in a biophysical model of an mPFC microcircuit, suggesting a possible mechanism for Nf1(+/-) working memory deficits. Accordingly, working memory assays applied during functional MRI (fMRI) studies in human subjects with NF1 reveal hypoactivation of corticostriatal networks, which is associated with impaired working memory performance. Collectively, these integrative mouse and human studies reveal molecular and cellular mechanisms contributing to working memory deficits in NF1.

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