Gating of sensory (e.g. auditory) information has been demonstrated as a reduction in the auditory-evoked potential responses recorded in the brain of both normal animals and human subjects. Auditory gating is perturbed in schizophrenic patients and pharmacologically by drugs such as amphetamine, phencyclidine or ketamine, which precipitate schizophrenic-like symptoms in normal subjects. The neurobiological basis underlying this sensory gating can be investigated using local field potential recordings from single electrodes. In this paper we use such technology to investigate the role of cannabinoids in sensory gating. Cannabinoids represent a fundamentally new class of retrograde messengers which are released postsynaptically and bind to presynaptic receptors. In this way they allow fine-tuning of neuronal response, and in particular can lead to so-called depolarization-induced suppression of inhibition (DSI). Our experimental results show that application of the exogenous cannabinoid WIN55, 212-2 can abolish sensory gating as measured by the amplitude of local field responses in rat hippocampal region CA3. Importantly we develop a simple firing rate population model of CA3 and show that gating is heavily dependent upon the presence of a slow inhibitory (GABAB) pathway. Moreover, a simple phenomenological model of cannabinoid dynamics underlying DSI is shown to abolish gating in a manner consistent with our experimental findings
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