This hypothesis initially arose from our studies using fixed-potential amperometry to record medial prefrontal cholinergic transients in rats performing a cued appetitive response task. Cue presentations
were separated by ~ 90-s intervals during which animals were free to engage in task-irrelevant behavior. Cues that were detected and thus evoked a shift from ongoing behavior (e.g., grooming) to cue-directed behavior produced transient increases in ACh release (Parikh et al., 2007). In contrast, cues that were not detected (‘misses’) failed to evoke cholinergic transients. Several control Z-VAD-FMK in vivo experiments demonstrated that reward delivery and reward retrieval do not contribute to the generation of cholinergic transients. Furthermore, we showed that cue-evoked cholinergic transients emerged during the learning of this task, as cues began to control behavior. Subsequent experiments recorded both glutamatergic and PFT�� concentration cholinergic activity
in rats performing an operant sustained-attention task (SAT). This task consists of separate trials during which visual cues (or signals) are presented, or not, followed by the extension of the levers into the operant chamber which triggers a response. Rats press one lever to report the presence of the cue and another to report the cue’s absence (nonsignal trial). Correct responses are ‘hits’ on signal trials Urocanase and ‘correct rejections’ on nonsignal or blank trials. In the thalamic input layer of the prelimbic cortex, all cues that
resulted in hits evoked glutamatergic transients (W.M. Howe, H. Gritton & M. Sarter, unpublished observations; Fig. 1B). Although glutamatergic transients were found for all hit trials, cholinergic transients occurred for only a proportion (~ 60%) of cues yielding hits. Thus, glutamatergic transients, while required for cholinergic transients, were not sufficient for their generation. Instead, the presence or absence of cholinergic events during cue-hit trials depended on the previous trial type (Howe et al., 2013). Specifically, cholinergic transients were only evoked by cues in hit trials when those trials were preceded by a missed cue or correct rejection trial. In other words, transients only occurred when hits (correct indication of a signal trial) were preceded by an actual (correct rejection) or perceived (miss) nonsignal trial. We therefore refer to these particular hit trials as ‘incongruent hits’ or ‘shift-hits’, i.e., the signal response on these trials is incongruent with nonsignal response on the prior trial, and requires a shift in task representation and response. Cholinergic transients were not evoked by cues that were presented consecutively and reliably detected (‘consecutive hits’; Howe et al., 2013).