[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: GABAergic interneurons are essential for a functional equilibrium between excitatory and inhibitory impulses throughout the CNS. Disruption of this equilibrium can lead to various neurological or neuropsychiatric disorders such as epilepsy or schizophrenia. Schizophrenia itself is clinically defined by negative (e.g., depression) and positive (e.g., hallucinations) symptoms as well as cognitive dysfunction. GABAergic interneurons are proposed to play a central role in the etiology and progression of schizophrenia; however, the specific mechanisms and the time-line of symptom development as well as the distinct involvement of cortical and hippocampal GABAergic interneurons in the etiology of schizophrenia-related symptoms are still not conclusively resolved. Previous work demonstrated that GABAergic interneurons can be selectively depleted in adult mice by means of saporin-conjugated anti-vesicular GABA transporter antibodies (SAVAs) in vitro and in vivo. Given their involvement in schizophrenia-related disease etiology, we ablated GABAergic interneurons in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and dorsal hippocampus (dHPC) in adult male C57BL/6N mice. Subsequently we assessed alterations in anxiety, sensory processing, hyperactivity and cognition after long-term (>14 days) and short-term (<14 days) GABAergic depletion. Long-term GABAergic depletion in the mPFC resulted in a decrease in sensorimotor-gating and impairments in cognitive flexibility. Notably, the same treatment at the level of the dHPC completely abolished spatial learning capabilities. Short-term GABAergic depletion in the dHPC revealed a transient hyperactive phenotype as well as marked impairments regarding the acquisition of a spatial memory. In contrast, recall of a spatial memory was not affected by the same intervention. These findings emphasize the importance of functional local GABAergic networks for the encoding but not the recall of hippocampus-dependent spatial memories.
Full-text · Article · Jan 2015 · Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Spatial navigation is a fundamental capability necessary in everyday life to locate food, social partners, and shelter. It results from two very different strategies: (1) place learning which enables for flexible way finding and (2) response learning that leads to a more rigid "route following." Despite the importance of knockout techniques that are only available in mice, little is known about mice' flexibility in spatial navigation tasks. Here we demonstrate for C57BL6/N mice in a water-cross maze (WCM) that only place learning enables spatial flexibility and relearning of a platform position, whereas response learning does not. This capability depends on an intact hippocampal formation, since hippocampus lesions by ibotenic acid (IA) disrupted relearning. In vivo manganese-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging revealed a volume loss of ≥60% of the hippocampus as a critical threshold for relearning impairments. In particular the changes in the left ventral hippocampus were indicative of relearning deficits. In summary, our findings establish the importance of hippocampus-dependent place learning for spatial flexibility and provide a first systematic analysis on spatial flexibility in mice.
Full-text · Article · Dec 2012 · Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is characterized by the presence of three major symptom clusters: persistent fear memories, hyperarousal, and avoidance. With a passage of time after the trauma, PTSD patients show an increase in unspecific fear and avoidance, a phenomenon termed "fear generalization". It is not clear whether fear generalization arises from the time-dependent growth of hyperarousal or changes in associative fear. The present study investigated behavioral and neuroanatomical correlates of non-associative and associative fear memory one week vs. one month after a trauma in a mouse model of PTSD with immediate vs. delayed foot shock application. The immediate shock procedure led to a lower contextual fear, but did not influence the hyperarousal (i.e. increased acoustic startle responses) assessed within the first week after the trauma. Only delayed shocked mice demonstrated generalization of contextual fear and an increase in generalized avoidance behavior, with no changes in hyperarousal one month after trauma. We observed the same increase in c-Fos expression following delayed and immediate shock presentation within the lateral, basolateral, central amygdala and CA1, CA3 and dentate gyrus of hippocampus, suggesting that all of these structures contribute to the development of hyperarousal. Only basolateral amygdala and dentate gyrus appeared to be additionally involved in encoding of contextual information. In summary, our results demonstrate the independence of associative and non-associative trauma-related fear. They support the hypothesis that generalized fear emerges in consequence of forgetting specific stimulus attributes associated with the shock context.
Full-text · Article · May 2012 · Behavioural brain research