Date of Award


Degree Type



Dr. Susanne Schmid

Second Advisor

Dr. Arthur Brown

Third Advisor

Dr. Raj Rajakumar


Prepulse inhibition (PP1) is the attenuation of a startle response brought-on by a non-startling sensory stimulus (prepulse) presented 5-1000ms before the startle-evoking stimulus. It is a measure of sensory gating that is seen disrupted in schizophrenia, and other mental disorders. Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) have been implicated in PPI of acoustic startle at both a systemic level and at the level in which the primary startle pathway can receive modulatory input - the caudal pontine reticular nucleus (PnC). This research will help clarify the role that nicotine plays in PPI at both a systemic level and at a level of the PnC. We show that the systemic effect of nicotine is at least partly mediated by non-PnC a7 nAChRs, and that the effect of nicotine in the PnC is mainly mediated by non-a7 nAChRs (likely a4p2 nAChRs). This research helps clarify the role that nicotine plays in sensorimotor gating, and may help in drug development in schizophrenia.



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