Title

A Method for Remotely Silencing Neural Activity in Rodents During Discrete Phases of Learning

Abstract

This protocol describes how to temporarily and remotely silence neuronal activity in discrete brain regions while animals are engaged in learning and memory tasks. The approach combines pharmacogenetics (Designer-Receptors-Exclusively-Activated-by-Designer-Drugs) with a behavioral paradigm (sensory preconditioning) that is designed to distinguish between different forms of learning. Specifically, viral-mediated delivery is used to express a genetically modified inhibitory G-protein coupled receptor (the Designer Receptor) into a discrete brain region in the rodent. Three weeks later, when designer receptor expression levels are high, a pharmacological agent (the Designer Drug) is administered systemically 30 min prior to a specific behavioral session. The drug has affinity for the designer receptor and thus results in inhibition of neurons that express the designer receptor, but is otherwise biologically inert. The brain region remains silenced for 2-5 hr (depending on the dose and route of administration). Upon completion of the behavioral paradigm, brain tissue is assessed for correct placement and receptor expression. This approach is particularly useful for determining the contribution of individual brain regions to specific components of behavior and can be used across any number of behavioral paradigms.

Publisher

Journal of Visualized Experiments

Publication Date

6-22-2015

Publication Title

Journal of Visualized Experiments

Department

Neuroscience

Document Type

Article

DOI

10.3791/52859

Keywords

Behavior, Issue 100, Pharmacogenetics, Neuroscience, Temporary neural inactivation, Sensory preconditioning, Rodent, Cortex, Adeno-associated virus, DREADDs, Stereotaxic surgery

Language

English

Format

text

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