Schizophrenia symptoms segregate into positive, negative and cognitive, which exhibit differential sensitivity to drugs. Recent efforts to identify treatments targeting cognitive impairments in schizophrenia have directed attention to the cholinergic system for its well documented role in cognition. Relatedly, muscarinic antagonists (e.g. scopolamine) produce an antimuscarinic syndrome, characterized by psychosis and cognitive impairments. Latent inhibition (LI) is the poorer conditioning to a stimulus resulting from its non-reinforced pre-exposure. LI indexes the ability to ignore irrelevant stimuli and aberrations of this capacity produced by pro-psychotic agents (e.g. amphetamine, MK-801) are used extensively to model attentional impairments in schizophrenia. We recently showed that LI was disrupted by scopolamine at low doses, and this was reversed by typical and atypical antipsychotic drugs (APDs) and the acetylcholinesterase inhibitor physostigmine. Here, at a higher dose (1.5 mg/kg), scopolamine produced an opposite pole of attentional impairment, namely, attentional perseveration, whereby scopolamine-treated rats persisted in expressing LI under strong conditioning that prevented LI expression in controls. Scopolamine-induced persistent LI was reversed by cholinergic and glycinergic cognitive enhancers (physostigmine and glycine) but was resistant to both typical and atypical APDs (haloperidol and clozapine). The latter sets scopolamine-induced persistent LI apart from scopolamine- and amphetamine-induced disrupted LI, which are reversed by both typical and atypical APDs, as well as from other cases of abnormally persistent LI including MK-801-induced persistent LI, which is reversed by atypical APDs. Thus, scopolamine-induced persistent LI may provide a pharmacological LI model for screening cognitive enhancers that are efficient for the treatment of APD-resistant cognitive impairments in schizophrenia.
- Antipsychotic drugs
- Latent inhibition