Several lines of evidence suggest that extracellular signal-regulated kinase1/2 (ERK1/2) and dopaminergic system is involved in learning and memory. However, it remains to be determined if the dopaminergic system and ERK1/2 pathway contribute to cognitive function in the prefrontal cortex (PFC). The amount of phosphorylated ERK1/2 was increased in the PFC immediately after exposure to novel objects in the training session of the novel object recognition test. An inhibitor of ERK kinase impaired long-term recognition memory 24 h after the training although short-term memory tested 1 h after the training was not affected by the treatment. The dopamine D1 receptor agonist increased ERK1/2 phosphorylation in the PFC in vivo as well as in cortical neurons in vitro. Microinjection of the dopamine D1 receptor antagonist into the PFC impaired long-term recognition memory whereas the D2 receptor antagonist had no effect. Immunohistochemistry revealed that exposure to novel objects resulted in an increase in c-Fos expression in the PFC. Microinjection of the protein synthesis inhibitor anisomycin into the PFC impaired the long-term recognition memory. These results suggest that the activation of ERK1/2 following the stimulation of dopamine D1 receptors is necessary for the protein synthesis-dependent long-term retention of recognition memory in the PFC.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Cognitive Neuroscience
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience