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J Neurosci. 1999 Jun 1;19(11):4585-94.

Involvement of the prelimbic-infralimbic areas of the rodent prefrontal cortex in behavioral flexibility for place and response learning.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, 84112, USA.


The present experiments investigated the role of the prelimbic-infralimbic areas in behavioral flexibility using a place-response learning paradigm. All rats received a bilateral cannula implant aimed at the prelimbic-infralimbic areas. To examine the role of the prelimbic-infralimbic areas in shifting strategies, rats were tested on a place and a response discrimination in a cross-maze. Some rats were tested on the place version first followed by the response version. The procedure for the other rats was reversed. Infusions of 2% tetracaine into the prelimbic-infralimbic areas did not impair acquisition of the place or response discriminations. Prelimbic-infralimbic inactivation did impair learning when rats were switched from one discrimination to the other (cross-modal shift). To investigate the role of the prelimbic-infralimbic areas in intramodal shifts (reversal learning), one group of rats was tested on a place reversal and another group tested on a response reversal. Prelimbic-infralimbic inactivation did not impair place or response intramodal shifts. Some rats that completed testing on a particular version in the cross-modal and intramodal experiments were tested on the same version in a new room for 3 d. The transfer tests revealed that rats use a spatial strategy on the place version and an egocentric response strategy on the response version. Overall, these results suggest that the prelimbic-infralimbic areas are important for behavioral flexibility involving cross-modal but not intramodal shifts.

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