Recent findings indicate that a post-training injection of glucose enhances memory storage, suggesting that release of glucose into plasma may mediate the effects of epinephrine and perhaps other treatments on memory. The present experiment examined the effects of handling, inhibitory (passive) avoidance training, epinephrine and glucose injections on plasma glucose levels in Sprague-Dawley rats. Handling produced a small, but significant, transient increase in plasma glucose above basal levels. Saline injections caused a similar increase in circulating glucose levels. Inhibitory avoidance training with high footshock (2.0 mA, 2.0 s) resulted in significant increases in plasma glucose levels above those of low (0.5 mA, 0.75 s) and unshocked animals suggesting that glucose release is responsive to inhibitory avoidance training. Subcutaneous injections of epinephrine (0.01-1.0 mg/kg), or glucose (10-1000 mg/kg) significantly elevated glucose levels above those of saline-injected animals in a dose-dependent manner. Memory facilitating doses of epinephrine and glucose resulted in increases in plasma glucose levels similar to those seen in rats trained with high footshock. Higher doses of epinephrine and glucose resulted in further increases in circulating glucose, to levels significantly greater than those of memory facilitating doses. These results suggest that memory modulation, both endogenous and in response to epinephrine injections, may be mediated in part by circulating glucose levels. Thus, the findings of these experiments support the view that circulating glucose levels regulate the efficacy of neural memory storage processes.
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