The effects of the glutamate antagonist memantine on brain activation to an auditory perception task

Research Area: Research Year: 2009
Type of Publication: Article
Authors: van Wageningen, H; Jørgensen, H A; Specht, Karsten; Eichele, Tom; Hugdahl, Kenneth
Glutamate is critically involved in the regulation of cognitive functions in humans. There is, however, sparse evidence regarding how blocking glutamate action at the receptor site during a cognitive task affects brain activation. In the current study, the effects of the glutamate antagonist memantine were examined with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Thirty-one healthy adults were scanned twice in a counter-balanced design, either in a no-drug session or after administration of memantine for 21 days. The subjects performed a simple auditory perception task with consonant-vowel stimuli. Group-level spatial independent component analysis (ICA) was used to decompose the data and to extract task-related activations. The focus was on four task-related ICA components with frontotemporal localization. The results showed that glutamate-blockage resulted in a significant enhancement in one component, with no significant effect in the other three components. The enhanced effect of memantine was in the middle temporal gyrus, superior frontal gyrus, and middle frontal gyrus. It is suggested that the results reflect effects of glutamatergic processes primarily through non-N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor pathways. Moreover, the results demonstrate that memantine can be used as a probe which allows for studying the effect of excitatory neurotransmission on neuronal activation.
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