TitleA neurobehavioral model for rapid actions of corticosterone on sensorimotor integration
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1999
AuthorsRose, JD, Moore, FL
Type of ArticleJournal Article

Stress-induced corticosterone (CORT) secretion that causes a rapid blockade of courtship clasping by male roughskin newts (Taricha granulosa) is mediated by a specific neuronal membrane receptor for CORT. Amplectic clasping, which can be triggered by pressure on the ventral body surface and cloaca, is controlled by the influence of medullary neurons on the spinal cord. Using clasping as a simple neurobehavioral model, we have focused our analysis of CORT effects on clasping by examining the steroid's effects on neurophysiological properties of medullary neurons, especially medullary reticulospinal neurons, the principal output cells from the brain to the spinal cord. Systemic CORT caused, within 3 min of injection, diverse reductions in reticulospinal neuron excitability. Another rapid CORT effect on medullary neurons was to depress responsiveness to pressure on the cloaca. Experiments with chronically implanted, freely moving newts revealed that the rapid CORT effects are quite specific to neural processes related to clasping. CORT injections rapidly blocked clasping in response to cloacal stimuli and concurrently depressed neuronal responses to cloacal pressure and firing associated with clasping. Activity of reticulospinal neurons was often associated with nonclasping movements and this activity was rarely altered by CORT. Thus, CORT mainly affected aspects of neuronal function related to clasping. In other neurophysiological experiments, we found that the neuropeptides vasotocin and corticotropin-releasing hormone modified the neural effects of CORT. Prior exposure of medullary neurons to either of these neuropeptides caused systemic CORT administration to rapidly potentiate neuronal responses to cloacal stimuli, indicating that the direction and potency of CORT effects depend critically on the prevailing neuroendocrine state of the brain. (C) 1999 Elsevier Science Inc. All rights reserved.

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