Role of the cholinergic systems of the dorsal and ventral striatum of the rat brain in controlling learned movements

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Comparative studies were performed of the effects of injections of a cholinergic agonist (carbachol) and antagonist (scopolamine) into the ventral and dorsal striatum on the performance of a learned movement involving prolonged maintenance of extension of the forelimb in rats. Doses of carbachol (0.03-3.00 μg) into the ventral striatum were accompanied by increases in the numbers of movements with prolonged maintenance of extension with application of pressure against an obstacle, with a simultaneous decrease in the percentage of rapid nonreinforced movements (by an average of 18.8%). Injections into the dorsal striatum disrupted slow movements which were not reinforced during training, on a background of stable performance of the learned reflex. Doses of scopolamine (0.3-3.0 μg) into both the dorsal and ventral parts of the striatum produced increases (by 22.7±8.2% and 68.9±14.3%) in the numbers of rapid nonreinforced movements typical of the repertoire of untrained animals. These data led to the suggestion that the cholinergic system of the ventral striatum is involved in the maintenance of forelimb muscle tone in rats during the performance of movements in which pressure is applied to an obstacle. The cholinergic system of the dorsal striatum does not have this property, but plays a significant role in the process of learning new sensory-controlled movements.

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