Markers for biogenic amines in the aged rat brain: Relationship to decline in spatial learning ability

Michela Gallagher, Rebecca D. Burwell, Matthew H. Kodsi, Michael McKinney, Stan Southerland, Lorraine Vella-Rountree, Mark H. Lewis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

141 Scopus citations


The major goal of the study was to evaluate the relationship of brain aging to individual differences in functional decline in rats. Forebrain choline-acetyltransferase (ChAT) and monoamines, including their metabolites, were examined in young and aged male Long-Evans rats in relation to their spatial learning ability. Aged rats that were unimpaired on a spatial learning task exhibited few changes in neurochemistry relative to the young group: each change in this subgroup was also evident in the remaining aged animals that were behaviorally impaired. Additional changes in neurochemical measures only found in the behaviorally impaired aged animals included decreased ChAT in the basal forebrain, striatum, and frontal cortex. A cluster analysis using the 15 neurochemical measures that were sensitive to aging yielded groupings of aged animals that differed with respect to their spatial learning ability, but not in their cue learning latencies. In this analysis the activity of ChAT in the basal forebrain and striatum appeared to be the best predictors of spatial learning impairment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)507-514
Number of pages8
JournalNeurobiology of aging
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1990
Externally publishedYes


  • Choline-acetyltransferase
  • Dopamine
  • Individual differences
  • Monoamine metabolites
  • Norepinephrine
  • Rats
  • Serotonin
  • Spatial learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Aging
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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