University of Alberta

Day: December 1, 2013

FG7142, yohimbine, and βCCE produce anxiogenic-like effects in the elevated plus-maze but do not affect brainstem activated hippocampal theta

PMID: 23851259

Yeung M, Lu L, Hughes AM, Treit D, Dickson CT

Neuropharmacology 2013 Dec;75:47-52


The neurobiological underpinnings of anxiety are of paramount importance to selective and efficacious pharmaceutical intervention. Hippocampal theta frequency in urethane anaesthetized rats is suppressed by all known (and some previously unknown) anti-anxiety (anxiolytic) drugs. Although these findings support the predictive validity of this assay, its construct validity (i.e., whether theta frequency actually indexes anxiety per se) has not been a subject of systematic investigation. We reasoned that if anxiolytic drugs suppress hippocampal theta frequency, then drugs that increase anxiety (i.e., anxiogenic agents) should increase theta frequency, thus providing evidence of construct validity. We used three proven anxiogenic drugs–two benzodiazepine receptor inverse agonists, N-methyl-β-carboline-3-carboxamide (FG7142) and β-carboline-3-carboxylate ethyl ester (βCCE), and one α2 noradrenergic receptor antagonist, 17α-hydroxy-yohimban-16α-carboxylic acid methyl ester (yohimbine) as pharmacological probes to assess the construct validity of the theta model. Although all three anxiogenic drugs significantly increased behavioural measures of anxiety in the elevated plus-maze, none of the three increased the frequency of hippocampal theta oscillations in the neurophysiological model. As a positive control, we demonstrated that diazepam, a proven anxiolytic drug, decreased the frequency of hippocampal theta, as in all other studies using this model. Given this discrepancy between the significant effects of anxiogenic drugs in the behavioural model and the null effects of these drugs in the neurophysiological model, we conclude that the construct validity of the hippocampal theta model of anxiety is questionable.

Spontaneous and electrically modulated spatiotemporal dynamics of the neocortical slow oscillation and associated local fast activity

PMID: 23876244

Greenberg A, Dickson CT

Neuroimage 2013 Dec;83:782-94


The neocortical slow oscillation (SO; ~1Hz) of non-REM sleep and anesthesia reflects synchronized network activity composed of alternating active and silent (ON/OFF) phases at the local network and cellular level. The SO itself shows self-organized spatiotemporal dynamics as it appears to originate at unique foci on each cycle and then propagates across the cortical surface. During sleep, this rhythm is relevant for neuroplastic processes mediating memory consolidation especially since its enhancement by slow, rhythmic electrical fields improves subsequent recall. However, the neurobiological mechanism by which spontaneous or enhanced SO activity might operate on memory traces is unknown. Here we show a series of original results, using cycle to cycle tracking across multiple neocortical sites in urethane anesthetized rats: The spontaneous spatiotemporal dynamics of the SO are complex, showing interfering propagation patterns in the anterior-to-posterior plane. These patterns compete for expression and tend to alternate following phase resets that take place during the silent OFF phase of the SO. Applying sinusoidal electrical field stimulation to the anterior pole of the cerebral cortex progressively entrained local field, gamma, and multi-unit activity at all sites, while disrupting the coordination of endogenous SO activity. Field stimulation also biased propagation in the anterior-to-posterior direction and more notably, enhanced the long-range gamma synchrony between cortical regions. These results are the first to show that changes to slow wave dynamics cause enhancements in high frequency cortico-cortical communication and provide mechanistic clues into how the SO is relevant for sleep-dependent memory consolidation.

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