Enhanced Retention In The Passive-Avoidance Task By 5-HT1A Receptor Blockade Is Not Associated With Increased Activity Of The Central Nucleus Of The Amygdala

Allen M. Schneider, Swarthmore College
E. Wilkins
A. Firestone
E. Carr Everbach, Swarthmore College
J. C. Naylor
P. E. Simson

This work is freely available courtesy of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.


The effect of blockade of 5-HT1A receptors was investigated on (1) retention in a mildly aversive passive-avoidance task, and (2) spontaneous single-unit activity of central nucleus of the amygdala (CeA) neurons, a brain site implicated in modulation of retention. Systemic administration of the selective 5-HT1A antagonist NAN-190 immediately after training markedly—and dose-dependently—facilitated retention in the passive-avoidance task; enhanced retention was time-dependent and was not attributable to variations in wattages of shock received by animals. Systemic administration of NAN-190 had mixed effects on spontaneous single-unit activity of CeA neurons recorded extracellularly in vivo; microiontophoretic application of 5-HT, in contrast, consistently and potently suppressed CeA activity. The present findings—that 5-HT1A receptor blockade by NAN-190 (1) enhances retention in the passive-avoidance task, and (2) does not consistently increase spontaneous neuronal activity of the CeA—provide evidence that a serotonergic system tonically inhibits modulation of retention in the passive-avoidance task through activation of the 5-HT1A receptor subtype at brain sites located outside the CeA.