Regional brain catecholamines and memory: Effects of footshock, amygdala implantation, and stimulation

Paul E. Gold, Kathleen A. Welsh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Previous findings have revealed a correlation between post-training release of whole brain norepinephrine (NE) and later retention performance. The present experiment examined changes after a training footshock in NE levels, as well as the levels of the major central NE metabolite, 3-methoxy-4-hydroxyphenylglycol (MHPG), dopamine (DA), and epinephrine (EPI) in eight brain regions. Brain levels of these amines and the metabolite were assessed 10 min after training in a one-trial inhibitory (passive) avoidance task. The results indicate that NE levels decreased significantly in neocortex, neostriatum, hypothalamus, frontal pole, septum, and brainstem, but not in hippocampus or thalamus. The decreases in NE levels were generally accompanied by increases in MHPG; the MHPG/NE ratio increased significantly in all areas in which decreases in NE were observed. DA levels decreased in neostriatum and increased in neocortex and brainstem. Epinephrine levels decreased only in the brainstem sample. Thus, the effects of training on NE are widespread, probably reflecting the release of the amine in most brain regions. Such findings are consistent with the view that posttraining release of brain NE may modulate the storage of new information in many brain regions. One especially potent treatment for modulating memory storage is electrical stimulation of the amygdala. Therefore, we also examined the effects of amygdala implantation and stimulation on brain catecholamine levels to determine whether such changes might be correlated with the effects of amygdala stimulation on memory. The results indicate that electrode implantation into the amygdala results in pervasive changes in NE levels in most brain regions tested. Against this modified baseline, the results of training and electrical stimulation were region specific and very difficult to interpret. The major conclusion which can be derived from this portion of the experiment is that the amygdala damage produced by electrode implantation produces a brain which is substantially different from that of intact animals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)116-129
Number of pages14
JournalBehavioral and Neural Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1987
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology


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