Cognitive Deficits Associated with Na(v)1.1 Alterations: Involvement of Neuronal Firing Dynamics and Oscillations

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Plos One


Geisel School of Medicine


Brain oscillations play a critical role in information processing and may, therefore, be essential to uncovering the mechanisms of cognitive impairment in neurological disease. In Dravet syndrome (DS), a mutation in SCN1A, coding for the voltage-gated sodium channel Na(v)1.1, is associated with severe cognitive impairment and seizures. While seizure frequency and severity do not correlate with the extent of impairment, the slowing of brain rhythms may be involved. Here we investigate the role of Na(v)1.1 on brain rhythms and cognition using RNA interference. We demonstrate that knockdown of Na(v)1.1 impairs fast-and burst-firing properties of neurons in the medial septum in vivo. The proportion of neurons that fired phase-locked to hippocampal theta oscillations was reduced, and medial septal regulation of theta rhythm was disrupted. During a working memory task, this deficit was characterized by a decrease in theta frequency and was negatively correlated with performance. These findings suggest a fundamental role for Na(v)1.1 in facilitating fast-firing properties in neurons, highlight the importance of precise temporal control of theta frequency for working memory, and imply that Na(v)1.1 deficits may disrupt information processing in DS via a dysregulation of brain rhythms.