Regulation of sustained attention, false alarm responding and implementation of conditional rules by prefrontal GABA A transmission: comparison with NMDA transmission
Both prefrontal cortex (PFC) GABAA and NMDA transmission regulate attentional processes, yet how they may differentially regulate signal detection or other aspects of attention is unclear.
We examined PFC GABAA and NMDA receptor regulation of attention using a sustained attention task (SAT) permitting identification of distinct forms of impairments. As this task requires implementation of conditional rules, we also investigated how reducing PFC GABA transmission affected performance of visual and auditory conditional discriminations.
Male rats were well-trained on the SAT that required identifying whether a brief visual stimulus (500–50 ms) was present/absent by pressing one of two levers. They then received intra-PFC infusions of the GABAA antagonist bicuculline (12.5–50 ng), the NMDA antagonist MK-801 (6 μg), and i.p. injections of MK-801 (0.1–0.3 mg/kg) prior to testing. Separate groups were trained either on a similar task where the visual stimulus was presented for 2.5 s, or a task where presentation of one of two auditory cues required responding on a left or right lever.
Both doses of bicuculline impaired vigilance, selectively increasing errors during nonsignal trials. Intra-PFC MK-801 induced subtle impairments at short signal durations. Systemic MK-801 impaired performance and increased response latencies. Visual and auditory conditional discrimination was impaired by 50 ng, but not 12.5 ng of bicuculline.
These findings highlight a key role for PFC GABA transmission in reducing sensitivity to distractors during attentional performance. Furthermore, they reveal that disruption of GABA signaling can interfere with the ability to implement conditional rules.
Publisher URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00213-017-4670-1
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