Normal aging selectively impairs some forms of learning. For example, aging rabbits require more than twice as many trials to acquire 500-ms trace eyeblink conditioning than do young rabbits. N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonists also impair trace conditioning. The effects of daily D- cycloserine (DCS; a partial agonist of the NMDA receptor-glycine site) treatment were tested on trace conditioning of young or aging rabbits using a conservative quantitative approach. DCS dose dependently improved acquisition, maximally reducing trials to criterion by ≃-50%. Dose-response curves were right-shifted by aging (twice the dose was required to achieve the same enhancement compared with controls). DCS did not affect nonassociative performance but sharpened the conditioned stimulus tone intensity discrimination. DCS thus can functionally modulate NMDA receptors in normal aging, enhance associative learning at all ages, and reduce or reverse age-dependent learning deficits.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Behavioral Neuroscience