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Brain Res. 1994 Apr 18;643(1-2):306-9.

Bilateral 6-OHDA lesions of the locus coeruleus impair associative olfactory learning in newborn rats.

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Department of Psychology, University of Oklahoma, Norman 73019.


On postnatal day 4 (PN4) Wistar rat pups were anesthetized and received bilateral infusions of 6-OHDA into the locus coeruleus or received vehicle infusions. On PN6 pups were trained in a classical conditioning paradigm with intra-oral milk infusions as the UCS and citral odor as the CS. Pups were trained in either 'paired', 'odor-only', 'milk-only' or 'backward' (milk then odor) conditions. On PN7 acquisition of a learned odor preference to the CS was tested in a two-odor choice test. HPLC analysis showed that locus coeruleus lesions significantly reduced olfactory bulb NE content but had no effect on olfactory bulb DA or 5-HT levels compared to controls. Pups receiving locus coeruleus lesions did not differ in behavioral response patterns during training compared to their littermate, vehicle controls. However, locus coeruleus lesions impaired acquisition of conditioned odor preferences. These results suggest that NE output from the locus coeruleus is critical for early olfactory learning.

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