The delayed match-to-sample task (DMS) is used to probe working memory (WM) across species. While the involvement of the PFC in this task has been established, limited information exists regarding the recruitment of broader circuitry, especially under the low- versus high- WM load.
We sought to address this question by using a variable-delay operant DMS task. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were trained and tested to determine their baseline WM performance across all (0-24s) delays. Next, rats were tested in a single DMS test with either 0s or 24s fixed delay, to assess low-/high-load WM performance. c-Fos mRNA expression was quantified within cortical and subcortical regions and correlated with WM performance. High WM load upregulated overall c-Fos mRNA expression within the PrL, as well as within a subset of mGlu5+ cells, with load-dependent, local activation of protein kinase C as the proposed underlying molecular mechanism. The PrL activity negatively correlated with choice accuracy during high load WM performance.
A broader circuitry, including several subcortical regions, was found to be activated under low and/or high load conditions. These findings highlight the role of mGlu5 and/or PKC dependent signaling within the PrL, and corresponding recruitment of subcortical regions during high-load WM performance.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience