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Deficits in motor performance after pedunculopontine lesions in rats - impairment depends on demands of task.

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Eur J Neurosci 2014 Jul;

Authors: Duncan A A MacLaren, Joseph A Santini, Ashley L Russell, Tamara Markovic, Stewart D Clark

Anatomically and functionally located between basal ganglia and brainstem circuitry, the pedunculopontine tegmental nucleus (PPTg) is in a pivotal position to contribute to motor behavior. Studies in primates have reported akinesia and postural instability following destruction of the PPTg. In humans, the PPTg partially degenerates in Parkinson's disease and stimulation of this region is under investigation as a possible therapeutic. Studies in rats report no crude motor impairment following PPTg lesion, although a detailed assessment of the role of the PPTg in rat motor function has not been reported. Our studies applied motor tests generally used in rodent models of Parkinson's disease to rats bearing either excitotoxic damage to all neuronal populations within PPTg, or selective destruction of the cholinergic subpopulation created with the toxin Dtx-UII. Neither lesion type altered baseline locomotion. On the rotarod, excitotoxic lesions produced a persistent impairment on the accelerating, but not fixed speed, conditions. In the vermicelli handling task (a quantitative measure of fine motor control and effective behavioral sequencing) excitotoxic lesions produced no single impairment, but globally increased the number of normal and abnormal behaviors. In contrast, depletion of cholinergic PPTg neurons produced impairment on the accelerating rotarod but no changes in vermicelli handling. Together, these results show that while PPTg lesions produce no impairment in the execution of individual motor actions, impairments emerge when the demands of the task increase. Results are discussed in terms of PPTg acting as part of a rapid action selection system, which integrates sensory information into motor output.

PMID: 24995993 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

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