Although dopamine is commonly studied for its role in incentive motivation, cognition, and various neuropsychiatric disorders, evidence from Parkinson's disease (PD) patients that present auditory deficits suggest that dopamine is also involved in central auditory processing. It has been recently discovered that the subparafascicular thalamic nucleus (SPF) sends dopaminergic projections to the inferior colliculus (IC), an important convergence hub for the ascending and descending auditory pathways. In the present study, our aim was to provide neurochemical evidence that activation of SPF neurons evokes dopamine release in the IC of anesthetized rats using fast-scan cyclic and paired pulse voltammetry in combination with carbon fiber microelectrodes. Electrical stimulation of the SPF (60 and 90 Hz) evoked dopamine release in the IC in a frequency-dependent manner, with higher frequencies evoking greater amplitude dopamine responses. Optogenetic-evoked dopamine responses were similar to the effects of electrical stimulation suggesting that electrical stimulation-evoked dopamine release was not due to nonspecific activation of fibers of passage, but rather to activation of SPF cells projecting to the IC. Selective dopamine reuptake blockade enhanced the evoked dopamine response, while selective blockade of serotonin did not, confirming the selectivity of the neurochemical recordings to dopamine. Therefore, the SPF neuronal pathway functionally mediates dopamine release in the IC and thus may be involved in auditory processing deficits associated with PD.
Keywords: Parkinson’s disease; audition; dopamine; inferior colliculus; optogenetics; subparafascicular thalamic nucleus; voltammetry.
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