Cognition-enhancing drugs increase stimulated hippocampal theta rhythm amplitude in the urethane-anesthetized rat. Academic Article uri icon


  • Synchronous hippocampal electroencephalographic activity occurring in a frequency range of 3 to12 Hz (i.e., hippocampal theta rhythm) has been associated with mnemonic processes in vivo. However, this link is tenuous and theta rhythm may be secondary to processes that underlie mnemonic function. If theta rhythm is associated with mnemonic or cognitive function, cognition-enhancing drugs should enhance theta rhythm regardless of their primary biological target. In the current study, we evaluated several drugs that were shown to have cognition-enhancing properties in preclinical behavioral models and that vary with respect to their primary biological target: 1) the nootropic piracetam (250 and 500 mg/kg); 2) the small-conductance calcium-activated potassium-channel blocker apamin (0.1 and 0.4 mg/kg); and 3) the acetylcholinesterase inhibitor donepezil (0.1-10.0 mg/kg). All of the cognition-enhancing drugs produced dose-dependent increases in hippocampal theta rhythm amplitude elicited by stimulation of the brainstem reticular formation at doses that did not affect peak theta frequency in the urethane-anesthetized rat. These increases were reversed by the muscarinic receptor antagonist scopolamine, suggesting a common final cholinergic action of these compounds. The use-dependent N-methyl-D-aspartate antagonist dizocilipine maleate and scopolamine reduced theta amplitude (both) and frequency (dizocilipine maleate only). These data demonstrate that hippocampal theta rhythm is sensitive to cognition-modulating compounds, suggesting that theta rhythm may be closely associated with cognitive function.

publication date

  • October 1999