Inhibition of GABA synthesis in the prefrontal cortex increases locomotor activity but does not affect attention in the 5-choice serial reaction time task
Attention deficits are a core cognitive symptom of schizophrenia; the neuropathology underlying these deficits is not known. Attention is regulated, at least in part, by the prefrontal cortex (PFC), a brain area in which pathology of γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) neurons has been consistently observed in post-mortem analysis of the brains of people with schizophrenia. Specifically, expression of the 67-kD isoform of the GABA synthesis enzyme glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD67) is reduced in parvalbumin-containing fast-spiking GABA interneurons. Thus it is hypothesized that reduced cortical GABA synthesis and release may contribute to the attention deficits in schizophrenia. Here the effect of reducing cortical GABA synthesis with L-allylglycine (LAG) on attention was tested using three different versions of the 5-choice serial reaction time task (5CSRTT). Because 5CSRTT performance can be affected by locomotor activity, we also measured this behavior in an open field. Finally, the expression of Fos protein was used as an indirect measure of reduced GABA synthesis. Intra-cortical LAG (10 μg/0.5 μl/side) infusions increased Fos expression and resulted in hyperactivity in the open field. Intra-cortical LAG infusions did not affect attention in any version of the 5CSRTT. These results suggest that a general decrease in GABA synthesis is not sufficient to cause attention deficits. It remains to be tested whether a selective decrease in GABA synthesis in parvalbumin-containing GABA neurons could cause attention deficits. Decreased cortical GABA synthesis did increase locomotor activity; this may reflect the positive symptoms of schizophrenia.
Paine, Tracie. 2012. Inhibition of GABA synthesis in the prefrontal cortex increases locomotor activity but does not affect attention in the 5-choice serial reaction time task. Neuropharmacology, Sep 26;65C:39-47. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2012.09.009
Attention, Schizophrenia, GABA, 5-choice serial reaction time task (5CSRTT), Locomotor activity, Prefontal cortex