Cholinergic Mechanisms of Target Oddball Stimuli Detection: The Late "P300-Like" Event-Related Potential in Rats

Neural Plast. 2018 Oct 16:2018:4270263. doi: 10.1155/2018/4270263. eCollection 2018.


Event-related potentials (ERPs) and oscillations (EROs) provide powerful tools for studying the brain's synaptic function underlying information processing. The P300 component of ERPs indexing attention and working memory shows abnormal amplitude and latency in neurological and psychiatric diseases that are sensitive to pharmacological agents. In the active auditory oddball discriminant paradigm, behavior and auditory-evoked potentials (AEPs) were simultaneously recorded in awake rats to investigate whether P300-like potentials generated in rats responding to rare target oddball tones are sensitive to subcutaneous modulation of the cholinergic tone by donepezil (1 mg/kg) and scopolamine (0.64 mg/kg). After operant training, rats consistently discriminate rare target auditory stimuli from frequent irrelevant nontarget auditory stimuli by a higher level of correct lever presses (i.e., accuracy) in target trials associated with a food reward. Donepezil attenuated the disruptive effect of scopolamine on the level of accuracy and premature responses in target trials. Larger P300-like peaks with early and late components were revealed in correct rare target stimuli trials as compared to frequent tones. Donepezil enhanced the peak amplitude of the P300-like component to target stimuli and evoked slow theta and gamma oscillations, whereas scopolamine altered the amplitude of the P300-like component and EROs to target stimuli. Pretreatment with donepezil attenuated effects of scopolamine on the peak amplitude of the P300-like component and on EROs. This study provides evidence that AEP P300-like responses can be elicited by rats engaged in attentive and memory processing of target stimuli and outline the relevance of the cholinergic system in stimulus discrimination processing. The findings highlight the sensitivity of this translational index for investigating brain circuits and/or novel pharmacological agents, which modulate cholinergic transmission associated with increased allocation of attentional resources.

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation / methods
  • Animals
  • Auditory Perception / drug effects
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Cholinergic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Cholinergic Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Cholinergic Neurons / drug effects
  • Cholinergic Neurons / physiology*
  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Discrimination Learning / drug effects
  • Discrimination Learning / physiology
  • Event-Related Potentials, P300 / drug effects
  • Event-Related Potentials, P300 / physiology*
  • Evoked Potentials, Auditory / drug effects
  • Evoked Potentials, Auditory / physiology*
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans


  • Cholinergic Agents
  • Cholinergic Antagonists
  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors