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Behav Brain Res. 1999 Apr;100(1-2):5-14.

Effects of medial and lateral caudate-putamen lesions on place- and cue-guided behaviors in the water maze: relation to thigmotaxis.

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Laboratory of Neuropsychology, National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


Rats with dorsomedial or dorsolateral caudate-putamen lesions and sham-operated controls were trained on the standard hidden platform (place) task in the water maze. Compared to controls, rats with dorsomedial, but not dorsolateral lesions were slower to escape to the hidden platform and spent significantly more time swimming near the wall of the pool (thigmotaxis) on the early trials, but eventually achieved control levels of performance. When the platform was removed from the pool, all groups exhibited a significant bias for swimming in the training quadrant and crossing the former location of the platform. In the second phase of the experiment rats were given visible platform (cue) training in a different room/pool with the platform moved to a new location each day. Rats with dorsomedial, but not dorsolateral lesions required more trials to reach criterion; again, thigmotaxis was observed on the early trials. The third phase, carried out in the original room/pool, included a place-retention trial followed by a place-cue competition test, (i.e. a choice between the learned spatial location of the hidden platform and the visible platform in a new location). The rats with dorsomedial, but not dorsolateral lesions swam to the visible platform more frequently than the controls. In the final phase, the rats in both lesion groups exhibited slightly lower thigmotactic tendencies than controls in a standard dry-land open field, a finding inconsistent with the hypothesis that thigmotaxis in the water maze is due to increased fear or anxiety. Taken together with other behavioral and anatomical findings, the results suggest that the dorsomedial caudate-putamen, by virtue of its connections with limbic and prefrontal cortical regions, may mediate a response selection process that integrates cognitive information with stimulus-response tendencies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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