Heightened Nicotinic Regulation of Auditory Cortex during Adolescence

Department of Neurobiology and Behavior and Center for Hearing Research, University of California, Irvine, California 92697, USA.
The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience (Impact Factor: 6.34). 10/2011; 31(40):14367-77. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1705-11.2011
Source: PubMed


Adolescent smoking is associated with auditory-cognitive deficits and structural alterations to auditory thalamocortical systems, suggesting that higher auditory function is vulnerable to nicotine exposure during adolescence. Although nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) regulate thalamocortical processing in adults, it is not known whether they regulate processing at earlier ages since their expression pattern changes throughout postnatal development. Here we investigate nicotinic regulation of tone-evoked current source density (CSD) profiles in mouse primary auditory cortex from just after hearing onset until adulthood. At the youngest ages, systemic nicotine did not affect CSD profiles. However, beginning in early adolescence nicotine enhanced characteristic frequency (CF)-evoked responses in layers 2-4 by enhancing thalamocortical, early intracortical, and late intracortical response components. Nicotinic responsiveness developed rapidly and peaked over the course of adolescence, then declined thereafter. Generally, responsiveness in females developed more quickly, peaked earlier, and declined more abruptly and fully than in males. In contrast to the enhancement of CF-evoked responses, nicotine suppressed shorter-latency intracortical responses to spectrally distant (non-CF) stimuli while enhancing longer-latency responses. Intracortical infusion of nAChR antagonists showed that enhancement of CF-evoked intracortical processing involves α4β2*, but not α7, nAChRs, whereas both receptor subtypes regulate non-CF-evoked late intracortical responses. Notably, antagonist effects in females implied regulation by endogenous acetylcholine. Thus, nicotinic regulation of cortical processing varies with age and sex, with peak effects during adolescence that may contribute to the vulnerability of adolescents to smoking.

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    • "current sink without affecting modulation of peak current sinks in layer 2/3 (Intskirveli & Metherate, 2012). Conversely, intracortical drug treatments, such as intracortical silencing using the GABA-A receptor agonist muscimol, can affect peak current sinks in layers 2–4 without affecting the first 3–5 ms of the layer 4 sink (Happel et al., 2010; Intskirveli & Metherate, 2012; Kaur et al., 2004; Kawai et al., 2011 "
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    ABSTRACT: Auditory-cued behavioral training can alter neural circuits in primary auditory cortex (A1), but the mechanisms and consequences of experience-dependent cortical plasticity are not fully understood. To address this issue, we trained adult rats to detect a 5 kHz target in order to receive a food reward. After 14 days training we identified three locations within A1: i) the region representing the characteristic frequency (CF) 5 kHz, ii) a nearby region with CF ∼10 kHz, and iii) a more distant region with CF ∼20 kHz. In order to compare functional connectivity in A1 near to, vs. far from, the representation of the target frequency, we placed a 16-channel multiprobe in middle- (∼10 kHz) and high- (∼20 kHz) CF regions and obtained current-source density (CSD) profiles evoked by a range of tone stimuli (CF ± 1-3 octaves in quarter-octave steps). Our aim was to construct "CSD receptive fields" (CSD RFs) in order to determine the laminar and spectral profile of tone-evoked current sinks, and infer changes to thalamocortical and intracortical inputs. Behavioral training altered CSD RFs at the 10 kHz, but not 20 kHz, site relative to CSD RFs in untrained control animals. At the 10 kHz site, current sinks evoked by the target frequency were enhanced in layer 2/3, but the initial current sink in layer 4 was not altered. The results imply training-induced plasticity along intracortical pathways connecting the target representation with nearby cortical regions. Finally, we related behavioral performance (sensitivity index, d') to CSD responses in individual animals, and found a significant correlation between the development of d' over training and the amplitude of the target-evoked current sink in layer 2/3. The results suggest that plasticity along intracortical pathways is important for auditory learning.
    Neurobiology of Learning and Memory 01/2013; 101. DOI:10.1016/j.nlm.2013.01.006 · 3.65 Impact Factor
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    • "Still other cases exhibited a mix of effects (Figure 5B shows enhancement of shorter latency nonCF-evoked response and lesser effects at longer latencies). Nevertheless, in all cases nicotine's effects on nonCF responses contrasted with its enhancement of CF-evoked responses, and overall suppression of nonCF-evoked profiles emerged in group data, as reported (Kawai et al., 2011; Intskirveli and Metherate, 2012), although the group data mask the diversity of effects. "
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    ABSTRACT: Although it has been known for decades that the drug nicotine can improve cognitive function, the nature of its effects and the underlying mechanisms are not well understood. Nicotine activates nicotinic acetylcholine (ACh) receptors (nAChRs) that normally are activated by endogenous ACh, presumably "hijacking" the cholinergic contribution to multiple cognitive functions, notably attention. Thus, studying nicotine's effects helps to better understand a commonly used drug as well as functions of nAChRs. Moreover, nicotinic agonists are being developed to treat a variety of disorders that involve attention-related or age-related cognitive dysfunction. Studies have shown that nicotine can enhance processing of attended stimuli and/or reduce processing of distracters; that is, nicotine enhances attentional filtering. To examine potential mechanisms within sensory cortex that may contribute to cognitive functions, here we describe nicotinic actions in primary auditory cortex, where well-characterized neural "filters"-frequency receptive fields-can be exploited to examine nicotinic regulation of cortical processing. Using tone-evoked current-source density (CSD) profiles, we show that nicotine produces complex, layer-dependent effects on spectral and temporal processing that, broadly speaking, enhance responses to characteristic frequency (optimal) stimuli while simultaneously suppressing responses to spectrally distant stimuli. That is, nicotine appears to narrow receptive fields and enhances processing within the narrowed receptive field. Since basic cortical circuitry and nAChR distributions are similar across neocortex, these findings may generalize to neural processing in other sensory regions, and to non-sensory regions where afferent inputs are more difficult to manipulate experimentally. Similar effects across sensory and non-sensory cortical circuits could contribute to nicotinic enhancement of cognitive functions.
    Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience 07/2012; 6:44. DOI:10.3389/fnbeh.2012.00044 · 3.27 Impact Factor
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    • "The present results showing differential effects of nicotine on CF-versus nonCF-evoked responses— e.g., enhancement versus either suppression or no effect , respectively—further support the notion of distinct underlying circuits (see also similar findings from Kawai et al. 2011). Blockade of nicotinic suppression by MEK inhibition implies regulation of long-distance pathways. "
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    ABSTRACT: Activation of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) by systemic nicotine enhances sensory-cognitive function and sensory-evoked cortical responses. Although nAChRs mediate fast neurotransmission at many synapses in the nervous system, nicotinic regulation of cortical processing is neuromodulatory. To explore potential mechanisms of nicotinic neuromodulation, we examined whether intracellular signal transduction involving mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) contributes to regulation of tone-evoked responses in primary auditory cortex (A1) in the mouse. Systemic nicotine enhanced characteristic frequency (CF) tone-evoked current-source density (CSD) profiles in A1, including the shortest-latency (presumed thalamocortical) current sink in layer 4 and longer-latency (presumed intracortical) sinks in layers 2-4, by increasing response amplitudes and decreasing response latencies. Microinjection of the MAPK kinase (MEK) inhibitor U0126 into the thalamus, targeting the auditory thalamocortical pathway, blocked the effect of nicotine on the initial (thalamocortical) CSD component but did not block enhancement of longer-latency (intracortical) responses. Conversely, microinjection of U0126 into supragranular layers of A1 blocked nicotine's effect on intracortical, but not thalamocortical, CSD components. Simultaneously with enhancement of CF-evoked responses, responses to spectrally distant (nonCF) stimuli were reduced, implying nicotinic "sharpening" of frequency receptive fields, an effect also blocked by MEK inhibition. Consistent with these physiological results, acoustic stimulation with nicotine produced immunolabel for activated MAPK in A1, primarily in layer 2/3 cell bodies. Immunolabel was blocked by intracortical microinjection of the nAChR antagonist dihydro-β-erythroidine, but not methyllycaconitine, implicating α4β2*, but not α7, nAChRs. Thus activation of MAPK in functionally distinct forebrain circuits--thalamocortical, local intracortical, and long-range intracortical--underlies nicotinic neuromodulation of A1.
    Journal of Neurophysiology 02/2012; 107(10):2782-93. DOI:10.1152/jn.01129.2011 · 2.89 Impact Factor
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