Mecamylamine Blocks Enhancement of Reference Memory but Not Working Memory Produced by Post-Training Injection of Nicotine in Rats Tested on the Radial Arm Maze

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The focus of this study was to analyze whether the psychostimulant nicotine would enhance reference and working memory consolidation in rats tested on the 8-arm radial arm maze. Mecamylamine, a nicotine antagonist, was used to attempt to block the enhancement of memory consolidation. All rats were given one training trial/day for 12 consecutive days, and 4 arms were baited. Rats were separated into five groups: the saline-nicotine group received an intraperitoneal (i.p.) injection of saline immediately after each trial followed 15 min later by an subcutaneous (s.c.) injection of nicotine (0.6 mg/kg free base); the nicotine-delay group received an s.c. injection of nicotine 2 h after each training trial, two groups received an i. p. injection of one of two different doses of mecamylamine (2.5 and 6.0 mg/kg) immediately after each trial, which was followed 15 min later by an s.c. nicotine injection, and a control group received an i.p. injection of saline immediately and 15 min after each training trial. Results showed that the saline-nicotine group made fewer reference and working memory errors than the saline- or nicotine-delay groups, but only the effect of nicotine on reference memory was blocked by the higher dose of mecamylamine. It appears from these results that nicotine's effects on reference and working memory may be mediated through different mechanisms.