Indexed on: 07 Apr '16Published on: 07 Apr '16Published in: Physiology & Behavior
Locomotion is essential for goal-oriented behavior. Theta frequency oscillations in the hippocampus have been associated with behavioral activation and initiation of movement. Recently, the nucleus incertus, a brainstem nucleus with widespread cortical and subcortical projections, has been reported to modulate the septo-hippocampal axis triggering theta activity in the hippocampus. This suggests that activation of the nucleus incertus would induce movement. In this study, we investigated the effects of electrical microstimulation of the nucleus incertus on locomotion in conscious rats. Rats chronically implanted with microelectrodes targeting the nucleus incertus were electrically stimulated while their behavior was tracked. High frequency electrical microstimulation of the nucleus incertus was sufficient to induce forward locomotion and rotation. The latencies of evoked locomotion were consistent with a role of the nucleus incertus in modulating premotor areas, possibly the septo-hippocampal axis. Electrical microstimulation of the nucleus incertus increased velocity, mobility and rotations during stimulation and post-stimulation. These results suggest that the nucleus incertus plays a role in behavioral activation and locomotion.