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Brain Res Cogn Brain Res. 2003 Mar;16(1):51-7.

Nicotinic mechanisms of memory: effects of acute local DHbetaE and MLA infusions in the basolateral amygdala.

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Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, USA.


Nicotine has been shown to improve working memory. The neural mechanisms underlying this effect are still being determined. The ventral hippocampus is critical for nicotinic effects on memory. Local ventral hippocampal infusions of either the nicotinic alpha7 nicotinic receptor antagonist methyllycaconitine (MLA) or the alpha4beta2 nicotinic receptor antagonist dihydro-beta-erythroidine (DHbetaE) caused working memory impairments, but no additive effects were seen. Other areas, such as the amygdala, also likely play important roles in nicotinic effects on memory. Amygdalar lesions cause memory impairment and there is a dense concentration of nicotinic receptors in the basolateral amygdala. The current study used local basolateral amygdalar infusions of the nicotinic antagonists MLA and DHbetaE to determine the involvement of alpha7 and alpha4beta2 nicotinic receptors in spatial working and reference memory. Rats (n=8) were trained in the 16-arm radial maze and were implanted with bilateral infusion cannulae into the basolateral amygdala. Acute infusions of MLA (6.75 micro g/side, P<0.0005) or DHbetaE (3.38 micro g/side, P<0.025) caused significant working memory impairments. When given together MLA and DHbetaE did not produce an additive effect. In fact, the 6.75 micro g/kg dose of DHbetaE produced a significant (P<0.0005) attenuation of the MLA-induced working memory impairment. Significant effects were not seen with reference memory or response latency. Nicotinic systems in the basolateral amygdala, as in the ventral hippocampus, are important for spatial working memory. In both the basolateral amygdala and the ventral hippocampus, MLA and DHbetaE individually caused working memory impairments. The lowest effective dose of DHbetaE was lower in the basolateral amygdala than in the ventral hippocampus. In both the basolateral amygdala and the ventral hippocampus, combined MLA and DHbetaE treatment did not produce additive working memory deficits. Unlike in the ventral hippocampus, the addition of DHbetaE to MLA in the basolateral amygdala significantly reduced the MLA-induced working memory deficit.

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