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International Behavioral Neuroscience Society 12th Annual Meeting (23-27 April 2003; San Juan, Puerto Rico)
Fronto-executive functions in rodents: neural and neurochemical substrates
Cardinal, R.N.; Dalley, J.W.; Passetti F.; Theobald, D.E.; Winstanley, C.A.; Robbins, T.W.
Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3EB, UK.
The prefrontal cortex (PFC) and associated cortico-striatal circuitry, including
interconnections with sensory neocortical and motor systems has been widely
implicated in the control and execution of goal-directed behaviour, particularly
in executive aspects of attentional processing. Such control mechanisms serve
to optimize performance when complex sequences of behaviour are required or
when pre-potent responses need to be inhibited in order to achieve a later goal.
This paper examines the nature of the cognitive control processes that contribute
to executive functioning, the neural circuitry underpinning such processes and
the distinct and separable contributions of the monoamine and cholinergic transmitter
systems that modulate PFC function. Data will be presented from two rodent paradigms;
namely the 5-choice serial reaction time task, which assesses executive aspects
of visuo-spatial attention and a delay-of-reward paradigm, which assesses aspects
of impulsivity. The results reveal dissociable functions of distinct fronto-striatal
subregions and serotonergic receptor subtypes in attention, impulsivity and
inhibitory response control as well as important differences in the behavioural
contingencies that specifically affect noradrenaline, dopamine, serotonin and
acetylcholine release in the PFC. The relevance of these findings to the pathophysiology
and treatment of schizophrenia and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder
will be discussed. This work was supported by the Wellcome Trust and an MRC
Center Grant in Clinical and Behavioral Neuroscience.