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Prepulse inhibition of the acoustic startle response of rats is reduced by 6-hydroxydopamine lesions of the medial prefrontal cortex

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Prepulse inhibition (PPI) of the acoustic startle response (ASR) is impaired by dopamine (DA) overactivity in the nucleus accumbens and anteromedial striatum. Since there is evidence that DA in the medial prefrontal cortex exerts an inhibitory control on striatal DA systems, it was investigated whether depletion of prefrontal DA reduces PPI. Rats were tested for PPI both before and after injections (2 × 1 µl per side) of vehicle, a low (3.0 µg/µl) or a high (6.0 µg/µl) dose of 6-hydroxydopamine hydrobromide (6-OHDA) into the prefrontal cortex. Only the high dose of 6-OHDA, leading to an 87% depletion of prefrontal DA, impaired PPI. The ability of an acoustic prepulse (75 dB, 10 kHz) to reduce the response to a startle pulse (100 dB noise burst) was maintained in sham lesioned rats, but was significantly disturbed in rats lesioned with the high dose of 6-OHDA. The 6-OHDA treatment did not affect the ASR amplitude in the absence of a prepulse. The reduction of PPI in lesioned rats correlated with the extent of DA depletion. These results suggest that the DA innervation of the prefrontal cortex is involved in the modulation of the ASR and they provide further evidence for opposite actions of prefrontal and subcortical DA systems in the control of behaviour. The present findings are discussed with regard to the potential role of prefrontal DA in schizophrenia.

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Correspondence to Michael Bubser.

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Bubser, M., Koch, M. Prepulse inhibition of the acoustic startle response of rats is reduced by 6-hydroxydopamine lesions of the medial prefrontal cortex. Psychopharmacology 113, 487–492 (1994). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02245228

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Key words

  • Prefrontal cortex
  • Dopamine
  • Acoustic startle response
  • Prepulse inhibition
  • 6-Hydroxydopamine
  • Rat
  • Schizophrenia