Bidirectional modulation of taste aversion extinction by insular cortex LTP and LTD

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The history of activity of a given neuron has been proposed to bidirectionally influence its future response to synaptic inputs. In particular, induction of synaptic plasticity expressions such as long-term potentiation (LTP) and long-term depression (LTD) modifies the performance of several behavioral tasks. Our previous studies in the insular cortex (IC), a neocortical region that has been related to acquisition and retention of conditioned taste aversion (CTA), have demonstrated that induction of LTP in the basolateral amygdaloid nucleus (Bla)-IC pathway before CTA training enhances the retention of this task. In addition, we reported that CTA training triggers a persistent impairment in the ability to induce in vivo LTP in the IC. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether LTD can be induced in the Bla-IC projection in vivo, as well as, whether the extinction of CTA is bidirectionally modified by previous synaptic plasticity induction in this pathway. Thus, rats received 900 train pulses (five 250 μs pulses at 250 Hz) delivered at 1 Hz in the Bla-IC projection in order to induce LTD or 10 trains of 100 Hz/1 s with an intertrain interval of 20 s in order to induce LTP. Seven days after surgery, rats were trained in the CTA task including the extinction trials. Our results show that the Bla-IC pathway is able to express in vivo LTD in an N-Methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor-dependent manner. Induction of LTD in the Bla-IC projection previous to CTA training facilitates the extinction of this task. Conversely, LTP induction enhances CTA retention. The present results show the bidirectional modulation of CTA extinction in response to IC-LTP and LTD, providing evidence of the homeostatic adaptation of taste learning.

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