Medial prefrontal administration of MK-801 impairs T-maze discrimination reversal learning in weanling rats

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Several executive functions rely on the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) in the rat. Aspiration and neurotoxic lesions of the mPFC impair reversal learning in adult rats. Systemic administration of MK-801, an NMDA-receptor antagonist, impairs T-maze reversal learning in weanling rats but the role of mPFC NMDA-receptor antagonism in this effect is not known in either adult or young animals. This set of studies showed that mPFC NMDA receptors are specifically involved in T-maze discrimination reversal in weanling rats. In Experiment 1, 26-day-old rats (P26) demonstrated a dose-dependent impairment following bilateral mPFC administration of either 2.5 or 5.0 μg MK-801 or saline (vehicle) during the reversal training phase only. In Experiment 2, P26 rats were trained on the same task, but four groups of rats received bilateral mPFC infusions during acquisition only (MK–SAL), reversal only (SAL–MK), both phases (MK–MK), or neither phase (SAL–SAL). MK-801 impaired performance only when infused during reversal. This suggests that NMDA-receptor antagonism in the mPFC is selectively involved in reversal learning during development and this may account for the previously reported effects of systemic MK-801 on T-maze discrimination reversal in weanling rats.

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