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Motor-skill learning in a novel running-wheel task is dependent on D1 dopamine receptors in the striatum.

Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology, Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science/The Chicago Medical School, 3333 Green Bay Road, North Chicago, IL 60064, USA.
Neuroscience (Impact Factor: 3.33). 05/2008; 153(1):249-58. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2008.01.041
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Evidence indicates that dopamine receptors regulate processes of procedural learning in the sensorimotor striatum. Our previous studies revealed that the indirect dopamine receptor agonist cocaine alters motor-skill learning-associated gene regulation in the sensorimotor striatum. Cocaine-induced gene regulation in the striatum is principally mediated by D1 dopamine receptors. We investigated the effects of cocaine and striatal D1 receptor antagonism on motor-skill learning. Rats were trained on a running wheel (40-60 min, 2-5 days) to learn a new motor skill, that is, the ability to control the movement of the wheel. Immediately before each training session, the animals received an injection of vehicle or cocaine (25 mg/kg, i.p.), and/or the D1 receptor antagonist SCH-23390 (0, 3, 10 microg/kg, i.p., or 0, 0.3, 1 microg, intrastriatal via chronically implanted cannula). The animal's ability to control/balance the moving wheel (wheel skill) was tested before and repeatedly after the training. Normal wheel-skill memory lasted for at least 4 weeks. Cocaine administered before the training tended to attenuate skill learning. Systemic administration of SCH-23390 alone also impaired skill learning. However, cocaine given in conjunction with the lower SCH-23390 dose (3 microg/kg) reversed the inhibition of skill learning produced by the D1 receptor antagonist, enabling intact skill performance during the whole post-training period. In contrast, when cocaine was administered with the higher SCH-23390 dose (10 microg/kg), skill performance was normalized 1-6 days after the training, but these rats lost their improved wheel skill by day 18 after the training. Similar effects were produced by SCH-23390 (0.3-1 microg) infused into the striatum. Our results indicate that cocaine interferes with normal motor-skill learning, which seems to be dependent on optimal D1 receptor signaling. Furthermore, our findings demonstrate that D1 receptors in the striatum are critical for consolidation of long-term skill memory.

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