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Neurobiology of learning and memory

Neonatal tactile stimulation enhances spatial working memory, prefrontal long-term potentiation, and D1 receptor activation in adult rats.


PMID 18077190

Abstract

Environmental stimuli during neonatal periods play an important role in the development of cognitive function. In this study, we examined the long-term effects of neonatal tactile stimulation (TS) on spatial working memory (SWM) and related mechanisms. We also investigated whether TS-induced effects could be counteracted by repeated short periods of maternal separation (MS). Wistar rat pups submitted to TS were handled and marked transiently per day during postnatal days 2-9 or 10-17. TS/MS pups were stimulated in the same way as TS pups and then individually separated from their mother for 1h/day. Their nontactile stimulated (NTS) siblings served as controls. In adulthood, TS and TS/MS rats showed better performance in two versions of the delayed alternation task and superior in vivo long-term potentiation of the hippocampo-prefrontal cortical pathway when compared with controls. Furthermore, there were more doses of A77636 (a selective dopamine D1 agonist) to significantly improve SWM performance in TS and TS/MS rats than in NTS rats, suggesting that activation of prefrontal D1 receptors in TS and TS/MS rats is more optimal for SWM function than in NTS rats. MS did not counteract TS-induced effects because no significant difference was found between TS/MS and TS animals. These data indicate that in early life, external tactile stimulation leads to long-term facilitative effects in SWM-related neural function.

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A255
A-77636 hydrochloride hydrate, ≥98% (HPLC), solid
C20H27NO3 · HCl · xH2O