Previous work has shown that β-adrenergic and GABAergic systems in the basolateral amygdala (BLA) are involved in the acquisition of conditioned odor aversion (COA) learning. The involvement of α2-adrenoreceptors, however, is poorly documented. In a first experiment, male Long-Evans rats received infusions of 0.1 μg of the selective α2-antagonist dexefaroxan (Dex) in the BLA before being exposed to COA learning. In a second experiment, levels of norepinephrine (NE) were analyzed following Dex retrodialysis into the BLA. While microdialysis data showed a significant enhancement of NE release in the BLA with Dex, behavioral results showed that pre-CS infusion of Dex impaired, rather than facilitated, the acquisition of COA. Our results show that the NE system in the BLA is involved in the acquisition of COA, including a strong α2-receptor modulation until now unsuspected. Supported by the recent literature, the present data suggest moreover that the processes underlying this learning are probably mediated by the balanced effects of NE excitatory/inhibitory signaling in the BLA, in which interneurons are highly involved.
Keywords: acquisition; basolateral amygdala; conditioned odor aversion; memory; microdialysis; norepinephrine; trace conditioning; α2-Adrenoceptors.
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