Modulation of the storage of social recognition memory by neurotransmitter systems in the insular cortex

Behav Brain Res. 2017 Sep 15;334:129-134. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2017.07.044. Epub 2017 Jul 29.


The insular cortex (IC) receives projections from prefrontal, entorhinal and cingulate cortex, olfactory bulb and basal nuclei and has reciprocal connections with the amygdala and entorhinal cortex. These connections suggest a possible involvement in memory processes; this has been borne out by data on several behaviors. Social recognition memory (SRM) is essential to form social groups and to establish hierarchies and social and affective ties. Despite its importance, knowledge about the brain structures and the neurotransmitter mechanisms involved in its processing is still scarce. Here we study the participation of NMDA-glutamatergic, D1/D5-dopaminergic, H2-histaminergic, β-adrenergic and 5-HT1A-serotoninergic receptors of the IC in the consolidation of SRM. Male Wistar rats received intra-IC infusions of substances acting on these receptors immediately after the sample phase of a social discrimination task and 24h later were exposed to a 5-min retention test. The intra-IC infusion of antagonists of D1/D5, β-adrenergic or 5-HT1A receptors immediately after the sample phase impaired the consolidation of SRM. These effects were blocked by the concomitant intra-IC infusion of agonists of these receptors. Antagonists and agonists of NMDA and H2 receptors had no effect on SRM. The results suggest that the dopaminergic D1/D5, β-adrenergic and serotonergic 5-HT1A receptors in the IC, but not glutamatergic NMDA and the histaminergic H2 receptors, participate in the consolidation of SRM in the IC.

Keywords: 5-HT(1A) receptors; Dopamine receptors; Insular cortex; Modulatory systems; Social recognition memory; β-adrenergic receptors.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Catheters, Indwelling
  • Cerebral Cortex / drug effects
  • Cerebral Cortex / metabolism*
  • Discrimination, Psychological / drug effects
  • Discrimination, Psychological / physiology
  • Exploratory Behavior / drug effects
  • Exploratory Behavior / physiology
  • Male
  • Memory Consolidation / drug effects
  • Memory Consolidation / physiology*
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / pharmacology
  • Psychological Tests
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Receptors, Neurotransmitter / agonists
  • Receptors, Neurotransmitter / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptors, Neurotransmitter / metabolism*
  • Recognition, Psychology / drug effects
  • Recognition, Psychology / physiology*
  • Social Perception*


  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Receptors, Neurotransmitter