N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) and non-NMDA receptor-mediated manipulations of the cortical cholinergic input arising from the basal forebrain differentially affect cognitive function. We used [14C]-2-deoxyglucose autoradiography in conscious rats to map the effects of excitatory amino acid agonist infusions into the nucleus basalis magnocellularis (NBM) on cerebral functional activity, as reflected by local rates of glucose utilization. Acute stimulation of NBM neurones by local infusion of α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA), 15 min before glucose use measurement, resulted in glucose use reductions in nine cortical regions innervated by NBM efferents including prefrontal, frontal, sensorimotor and cingulate cortices. NMDA infusions altered glucose use in two cortical areas. Both AMPA and NMDA markedly increased glucose use in the striatum and globus pallidus, with concomitant perturbations in striato-pallidal projection targets including the substantia nigra, entopeduncular nucleus, subthalamic nucleus and lateral habenular nucleus. In contrast, the GABAA agonist muscimol did not affect glucose use in the NBM or neocortical regions, but induced glucose use increases in several subcortical nuclei including the substantia nigra and entopeduncular nucleus.
The delayed effects of excitotoxic lesions were assessed 3 weeks after basal forebrain infusions of AMPA, NMDA, ibotenate or quisqualate. Statistically significant glucose use changes only occurred in the hypothalamus after NMDA, and the NBM after ibotenate infusions, although reduced cortical metabolism was apparent following AMPA-induced lesions of the NBM. Results support a dissociation between the functional sequelae of NMDA and non-NMDA receptor-mediated events in the basal forebrain, and long-term compensatory functional adaptation following cortical denervation.