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Complex influence of the infralimbic cortex on locus coeruleus neuronal activity



Complex influence of the infralimbic cortex on locus coeruleus neuronal activity



Society for Neuroscience Abstracts 26(1-2): Abstract No -657 40



The locus coeruleus (LC) innervates wide areas of the brain and plays a role in learning and memory by releasing norepinephrine (NE). The infralimbic cortex (IL) is also involved in cognition and in integrating peripheral somatic information in the forebrain. Since it is one of only two cortical areas projecting to the LC, we examined the influence of IL cortex on LC neuronal activity. LC activity is recorded in urethane anesthetized rats and a pipette filled with 2% lidocaine is lowered in the IL. A recording electrode is positioned in the IL about 1 mm anterior to the injecting pipette to monitor cortical inhibition by lidocaine. The inactivation of IL leads to a concommittent increase of about 30% in basal firing rate of LC, which would suggest that the IL exerts a tonic inhibitory influence on the LC. Attempts to block the increase by local infusion of a GABA-A antagonist in the LC led, unexpectedly, to a significant decrease in LC firing rate to below baseline. This result indicates that the overall inhibitory effect is, indeed, GABAergic, and reveals a smaller excitatory influence. This points to multiple influences by both direct and indirect pathways. Recent experiments show that one pathway is via the vagus nerve since bilateral vagotomy just prior to the IL inactivation not only blocked the increase in firing in LC but provoked a significant decrease, similar to the effect of the GABA antagonist. These results indicate that the IL exerts a complex tonic influence on LC firing. One pathway appears to be monosynaptic and excitatory. Another is polysynaptic, mediated peripherally, transmitted via the vagus nerve and inhibitory through GABA-A receptors.

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