Basal forebrain lesions impair tactile discrimination and working memory

Neurobiol Aging. 1989 Mar-Apr;10(2):173-9. doi: 10.1016/0197-4580(89)90027-4.


Rats received bilateral injections of the excitotoxin, N-methyl-D,L aspartate, which resulted in degeneration of basal forebrain cholinergic (BFC) neurons in the nucleus basalis magnocellularis. Most tests of general neurological function revealed no differences between control rats and those with BFC lesions and where differences were found they appeared to be due to hyperemotionality. Rats with BFC lesions demonstrated significant deficits in working memory, as evaluated in an 8-arm radial maze. In addition, these rats showed a severe impairment in tactile discrimination learning, an effect of BFC lesions not previously demonstrated. We propose that cholinergic deafferentation of the somatosensory cortex with consequent disruption in somatosensory information processing might account at least in part for this effect.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aspartic Acid / analogs & derivatives
  • Aspartic Acid / pharmacology
  • Basal Ganglia / physiology*
  • Learning / physiology
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology*
  • N-Methylaspartate
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Substantia Innominata / drug effects
  • Substantia Innominata / physiology*
  • Touch / physiology*


  • Aspartic Acid
  • N-Methylaspartate