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PLoS One. 2017 Nov 2;12(11):e0186732. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0186732. eCollection 2017.

Neuronal correlates of ketamine and walking induced gamma oscillations in the medial prefrontal cortex and mediodorsal thalamus.

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Neurophysiological Pharmacology Section, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, United States of America.
Graduate Program for Neuroscience, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America.
Section on Molecular Neurobiology, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, United States of America.


Alterations in the function of the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and its major thalamic source of innervation, the mediodorsal (MD) thalamus, have been hypothesized to contribute to the symptoms of schizophrenia. The NMDAR antagonist ketamine, used to model schizophrenia, elicits a brain state resembling early stage schizophrenia characterized by cognitive deficits and increases in cortical low gamma (40-70 Hz) power. Here we sought to determine how ketamine differentially affects spiking and gamma local field potential (LFP) activity in the rat mPFC and MD thalamus. Additionally, we investigated the ability of drugs targeting the dopamine D4 receptor (D4R) to modify the effects of ketamine on gamma activity as a measure of potential cognitive therapeutic efficacy. Rats were trained to walk on a treadmill to reduce confounds related to hyperactivity after ketamine administration (10 mg/kg s.c.) while recordings were obtained from electrodes chronically implanted in the mPFC and MD thalamus. Ketamine increased gamma LFP power in mPFC and MD thalamus in a similar frequency range, yet did not increase thalamocortical synchronization. Ketamine also increased firing rates and spike synchronization to gamma oscillations in the mPFC but decreased both measures in MD thalamus. Conversely, walking alone increased both firing rates and spike-gamma LFP correlations in both mPFC and MD thalamus. The D4R antagonist alone (L-745,870) had no effect on gamma LFP power during treadmill walking, although it reversed increases induced by the D4R agonist (A-412997) in both mPFC and MD thalamus. Neither drug altered ketamine-induced changes in gamma power or firing rates in the mPFC. However, in MD thalamus, the D4R agonist increased ketamine-induced gamma power and prevented ketamine's inhibitory effect on firing rates. Results provide new evidence that ketamine differentially modulates spiking and gamma power in MD thalamus and mPFC, supporting a potential role for both areas in contributing to ketamine-induced schizophrenia-like symptoms.

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