Carbachol infusion into the dentate gyrus disrupts sensorimotor gating of startle in the rat

Research paper by S. B. Caine, M. A. Geyer, N. R. Swerdlow

Indexed on: 01 Nov '91Published on: 01 Nov '91Published in: Psychopharmacology


Prepulse inhibition (PPI) is the decrease in a startle response that occurs when the startling stimulus is preceded by a weaker stimulus or “prepulse”. Schizophrenic patients exhibit abnormally low levels of PPI when the prepulse precedes the startle stimulus by less than 500 ms. A similar deficit in sensorimotor gating can be demonstrated in rats after stimulation of D2 dopamine (DA) receptors by systemic administration of DA agonists or by infusion of DA directly into the nucleus accumbens. We now demonstrate that carbachol infusion into the dentate gyrus of the hippocampal formation disrupts PPI in the rat. This disruption of sensorimotor gating occurs when the startling stimulus is either acoustic or tactile. Carbachol infusion into the neocortex has no effect on PPI. While pretreatment with the D2 DA receptor antagonist spiperone reverses the disruption of PPI caused by systemic administration of apomorphine, this pretreatment fails to reverse the disruption of PPI induced by carbachol infusion into the hippocampus. These results demonstrate that pharmacologic stimulation of the hippocampus disrupts sensorimotor gating in the rat by a mechanism distinct from that of DA agonists. Prepulse inhibition of the startle reflex is an animal model in which pharmacologic stimulation of the hippocampus mimics the deficits in sensorimotor gating observed in schizophrenic patients.