Auditory hallucinations are a characteristic symptom of schizophrenia. Research has documented that the auditory cortex is metabolically activated when this process occurs, and that imbalances in the dopaminergic transmission in the striatum contribute to its physiopathology. Most animal models have focused the effort on pharmacological approaches like non-competitive N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonists to produce activation of the auditory cortex, or dopamine antagonists to alleviate it. I hypothesize that these perceptual phenomena can be explained by an imbalance activation of spiny projecting neurons in the striatal pathways, whereby supersensitive postsynaptic D2-like receptor, signaling in the posterior caudatoputamen generates activation of the auditory cortex. Therefore, I characterized the neuroanatomical component involved in the activation of the auditory cortex. I evaluated the participation of dopamine D2-like receptor using selective dopamine antagonist manipulations and identified the circuits related to the auditory cortex by retrograde trans-synaptic tracing using pseudorabies virus (PRV-152). My results show that dopamine infused in the posterior caudatoputamen dose dependently increases the transcription of the immediate early gene, zif268 in the auditory cortex, predominantly in layers III and IV, but also in cortical columns, suggesting enhanced functional auditory activity. This indicates the participation of the posterior striatum in the modulation of the secondary auditory cortex. I was able to demonstrate also that a coinfusion of a selective dopamine D2-like receptor antagonist, eticlopride and dopamine, attenuate the activation of the auditory cortex. Furthermore, using PRV-152 I delineate the distinctive circuit by axial mapping of the infected neurons. Thus, I found secondary projections from the posterior caudatoputamen that synapse in the thalamus before reaching the auditory cortex. These striatal projections correspond to the same brain region affected by dopamine during auditory cortical activation. My results further characterized a mechanism to generate intrinsic perception of sound that may be responsible for auditory hallucinations. I propose this paradigm may elucidate insight on the biological basis of psychotic behavior.
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