Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Science




Dr. Stefan Everling


Maintenance of context is necessary for execution of appropriate responses to diverse environmental stimuli. The dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) plays a pivotal role in executive function, including working memory and representation of abstract rules, and is modulated by the ascending cholinergic system through nicotinic and muscarinic receptors. Muscarinic receptors’ effect on local primate DLPFC neural activity in vivo during cognitive tasks remains poorly understood. Here we examined the effects of muscarinic receptor blockade on rule-related activity in the macaque prefrontal cortex by combining iontophoretic application of the general muscarinic receptor antagonist scopolamine with single-unit recordings while monkeys performed a rule-guided saccade task. We found that scopolamine reduced overall neuronal firing rate and impaired rule discriminability of task-selective cells. Saccade and visual direction selectivity measures were also reduced by muscarinic antagonism. These results demonstrate that blockade of muscarinic receptors in dorsolateral prefrontal cortex creates deficits in working memory representation of rules in primates.