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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Dopamine and complex sensorimotor integration: further studies in a conditioned motor task in the rat.

Rats were trained to depress a lever and wait for the onset of a light stimulus, occurring after four equiprobable and variable intervals. At the stimulus onset, they had to release the lever within a reaction time limit for food reinforcement. This paradigm required time estimation of the various intervals and high attentional load for correct performance. Following activation of the dopaminergic transmission after systemic injection of d-amphetamine (0.6 and 0.8 mg/kg) or intrastriatal injection of dopamine (2.5 microgram/microliters), the rat's performance was impaired. Compared with control animals, the performance deficits were expressed as an increased number of premature lever releases before the conditional stimulus onset ("premature responses") and decreased reaction times. Indeed, the reaction times distribution was shifted to the left towards shortened reaction times. Although the number of premature responses was increased, the time estimation of the four different equiprobable intervals was not disturbed after stimulation of dopaminergic activity. A delay-dependent shortening of reaction times as a result of the conditional probability of the stimulus occurrence (i.e. reaction times are shorter as the duration of the delay increases) was found in control and drug sessions, indicating that the animals were still able to prepare their motor response (lever release) even after overstimulation of the dopaminergic transmission. In contrast, blocking dopamine receptors with the selective D2 antagonist raclopride was found to induce opposite effects on the reaction time performance. The number of delayed responses (i.e. occurring with a latency > 600 ms) was found to be significantly enhanced. Furthermore, the reaction times distribution showed a shift of the values to the right revealing a general tendency to lengthened reaction times. These results indicate that a "critical level" of dopamine activity (neither too low nor too high) in the striatum is necessary for a correct execution of the movement in a conditioned motor task with temporal constraint. Moreover, while delayed responses might reflect a motor impairment, anticipatory responses might reflect a "motor facilitation" revealed by a higher level of motor readiness, without disturbing time estimation nor attentional processes.[1]


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