Basal forebrain cholinergic system: a functional analysis.

Article date: 1991/1/1

PubMed ID: 1776577

Journal name: Advances in experimental medicine and biology (ISSN: 0065-2598)


This chapter has been organized empirically, focusing on the types of approaches that have been taken to understand BFCS function. This approach reflects the state of our knowledge about the behavioral and psychological functions of the BFCS. Considerable information has been gathered in the very short time that the BFCS has been the object of intense investigation. The results from the neurotoxic lesions and from the HACU studies provide some points of consistency and some puzzling differences. Both approaches to the study of basal forebrain function suggest that the MSA is involved in tasks that require spatial working memory; MSA lesions impaired choice accuracy, and HACU in the HIP was increased after performance. The pattern of results in simpler tasks is more difficult to interpret. In a left-right reference memory discrimination in a T-maze, MSA lesions did not impair acquisition or performance, whereas HACU in the HIP was activated during performance. This pattern of results suggests that although the MSA is engaged during this type of task, its activity is not necessary for normal performance. These, and other comparisons indicate the need for a systematic analysis of task demand (Olton, 1989b). Parametric manipulations of different task demands in a systematic fashion can indicate the extent to which the BFCS is involved in the function associated with each parametric manipulation. Ultimately, of course, the organization of this material should focus on particular psychological functions, rather than the techniques and procedures used to gather the information. Achieving this goal is going to require careful attention to the design of behavioral experiments so that definitive conclusions can be made about the extent to which the BFCS is involved in a given psychological function. A systematic application of task analysis can achieve this goal (Olton, 1986, 1989a, 1989b). For example, BFCS lesions in rats impair choice accuracy in spatial working memory tasks, and performance in these tasks engages the HACU system, at least in the HIP. If the spatial functions of this task involve the BFCS, then a nonspatial version of the task should produce a different pattern of results. If the spatial nature of the task is unimportant for BFCS function, then a nonspatial version of the task should produce the same results. By systematically changing one characteristic of the task at a time, the contribution of each component can be assessed.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Author List: Olton D, Markowska A, Voytko M L, Givens B, Gorman L, Wenk G

Publication Types: Journal Article; Review

Substances mentioned in the article: Neurotoxins; Ibotenic Acid; Quisqualic Acid; Choline; Acetylcholine;

Mesh terms: Acetylcholine/physiology; Animals; Choline/metabolism; Ibotenic Acid/toxicity; Neurons/physiology; Neurotoxins/toxicity; Primates; Prosencephalon/drug effects; Quisqualic Acid/toxicity; Rats;

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