N-Methyl-D-aspartate receptors in the nucleus accumbens are involved in detection of spatial novelty in mice

Alessandro Usiello, Francesca Sargolini, Pascal Roullet, Martine Ammassari-Teule, Enrica Passino, Alberto Oliverio, Andrea Mele

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aim of this study was to investigate the role played by intra-accumbens N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors in spatial information encoding. For this purpose, the effect of local administration of both competitive (AP-5) and non-competitive (MK-801) NMDA antagonists was assessed in a task designed to estimate the ability of rodents to encode spatial relationships between discrete stimuli. The task consists of placing mice in an open field containing five objects and, after three sessions of habituation, examining their reactivity to object displacement (spatial novelty) and object substitution (object novelty). The results show that both doses of MK-801 (0.15 and 0.3 μg/side) induced a selective impairment in the capability of mice to detect spatial novelty. A similar effect was obtained by injecting the low dose of the competitive antagonist AP-5 (0.1 μg/side), whereas the high dose (0.15 μg/side) abolished detection of both spatial and object novelty. Taken together these results show that intra-accumbens injections of low doses of competitive and non-competitive NMDA antagonists can produce selective deficits in processing spatial information resembling those observed after hippocampal damage. Moreover, the fact that pharmacological treatments spare memory processes involved in habituation suggests that NMDA antagonists may interfere with the formation of spatial representations rather than producing memory deficits per se.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-183
Number of pages9
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1998


  • AP-5
  • Habituation
  • Locomotor activity
  • MK-801
  • Nucleus accumbens
  • Object novelty
  • Spatial novelty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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