Amygdala activity associated with social choice in mice

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Studies suggest that the amygdala is a key region for regulation of anxiety, fear and social function. Therefore, dysfunction of the amygdala has been proposed as a potential mechanism for negative symptoms in schizophrenia. This may be due to NMDA receptor-mediated hypofunction, which is thought to be related to the pathogenesis of schizophrenia. In this study, electroencephalographic amygdala activity was assessed in mice during the three-chamber social test. This activity was also evaluated following exposure to the NMDA receptor antagonist ketamine. Vehicle-treated mice spent significantly more time in the social than the non-social chamber. This social preference was eliminated by ketamine. However, ketamine-treated mice spent significantly less time in the social chamber and significantly more time in the nonsocial chamber than vehicle-treated mice. There were no significant differences in induced powers between social and non-social chamber entries in vehicle-treated mice, except for theta frequencies, which featured greater induced theta power during non-social chamber entry. Ketamine eliminated differences in induced theta power between social and non-social chamber entries. Moreover, ketamine increased the induced gamma power during social chamber entry compared to that of vehicle-treated mice. All other frequency ranges were not significantly influenced by zone or drug condition. All significant findings were upon entry to chambers not during interaction. Results suggest that impaired function of NMDA receptor-mediated glutamate transmission can induce social impairments and amygdala dysfunction, similar to the pattern in schizophrenia. Future studies will utilize this method to evaluate mechanisms of social dysfunction and development of treatments of social impairments in schizophrenia.

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