As a catecholamine reuptake blocker, methylphenidate (MPH) enhances noradrenergic transmission and is likely to influence norepinephrine actions in sensory systems. To characterize neurophysiological actions of MPH in the primary somatosensory (SI) cortex, we recorded basal and whisker deflection-evoked discharge of infragranular sensory cortical neurons, before and after intraperitoneal administrations of saline and MPH (5 mg/kg) in halothane-anesthetized rats. MPH had two types of actions on sensory-evoked neuronal responses in the SI cortex, depending on the initial amplitude of the sensory response. When the whisker deflection induced a small excitatory response under control conditions, MPH significantly increased the amplitude of the response by ∼40%. When the whisker stimulation induced a large excitatory response under control conditions, MPH did not significantly alter the amplitude of the response, but significantly decreased the duration and the peak latency of the response, so that the response was more focused. These neurophysiological actions of MPH may underlie some of the beneficial effects of the drug on sensory processing and attention.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience