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Stimulation of Rat Brain Enhances Cognitive Function

Central thalamus of interest in treating neuropsychiatric disorders

THURSDAY, Oct. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Electrical stimulation of the central thalamus, a region implicated in alertness and memory, stimulates cognitive performance and affects gene expression in rats, according to a study published online Oct. 25 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition. This region of the brain is of interest in treating neuropsychiatric disorders.

Daniel G. Herrera, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues from Weill Medical College of Cornell University in New York City, continuously treated the central thalamus of rats with high-frequency electrical stimulation. The researchers then examined gene expression, behavior and memory.

The investigators found that stimulation increased the expression of certain genes in the cortex and hippocampus. Stimulation also increased behaviors associated with arousal including exploratory motor behaviors and grooming, and allowed rats to perform better on tasks assessing object recognition memory and goal-directed seeking behavior.

"Taken together, these studies indicate that electrical stimulation of the central thalamus may enhance cognitive performance through neocortical and hippocampal neuronal activation and specific regulation of gene expression," Herrera and colleagues conclude.

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