Collections > UNC Scholarly Publications > BioMed Central > Effects of the N-methyl-D-Aspartate receptor antagonist dextromethorphan on vibrotactile adaptation

Abstract Background Previous reports have demonstrated that short durations of vibrotactile stimuli (less than or equal to 2 sec) effectively and consistently modify both the perceptual response in humans as well as the neurophysiological response in somatosensory cortex. The change in cortical response with adaptation has been well established by a number of studies, and other reports have extended those findings in determining that both GABA- and NMDAR-mediated neurotransmission play a significant role in the dynamic response of somatosensory cortical neurons. In this study, we evaluated the impact that dextromethorphan (DXM), an NMDAR antagonist, had on two distinct vibrotactile adaptation tasks. Results All subjects, both those that ingested 60 mg DXM and those that ingested placebo, were evaluated for their amplitude discriminative capacity between two simultaneously delivered vibrotactile stimuli both with and without 3 conditions of pre-exposure to adapting stimulation. The results demonstrated that the perceptual metrics of subjects who ingested 60 mg DXM were significantly altered from that of controls when the amplitude discrimination task followed one of the conditions of adapting stimulation. Without the condition of pre-exposure to an adapting stimulus (or stimuli), there was little difference between the observations obtained from the subjects that ingested DXM and controls. Peak impact on subject response occurred at 60 min post-ingestion, whereas the scores of controls who ingested placebo were not impacted. Conclusion The results – that DXM blocks vibrotactile adaptation – is consistent with the suggestion that NMDAR-mediated neurotransmission plays a significant role in the perceptual adaptive response. This finding is also consistent with neurophysiological findings that report observations of the effects of NMDAR block on the SI cortical response to repetitive vibrotactile stimulation.