Considerable evidence has been provided these last years for the involvement of the GABA-A receptor complex in memory processes. Compounds that enhance the action of GABA, such as benzodiazepines, impair memory processing. On the contrary, compounds that reduce the action of GABA, such as ß-CCM, pentylenetetrazol or picrotoxin, have the opposite action, that is : enhance memory processing. All these actions seem to focus mainly on the acquisition (learning) processes. Depending on the dose, the same compounds also have effects on anxiety and on seizuring. Benzodiazepines are well-known anxiolytic and anticonvulsant agents whereas compounds that reduce the action of GABA have been found to produce anxiogenic and convulsant actions. The GABA-A receptor complex might thus be the location of a possible link between a pathological state (epilepsy) and two normal functions (anxiety and learning). This link is likely to involve common genetic pathways. In the normal subject, these data also emphasize the idea that normal memory processing involves a moderate level of anxiety.
Keywords: gaba receptor complex, pentylenetetrazol, picrotoxin, learning, anxiety, epilepsy
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