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Behav Brain Res. 1999 Feb 15;99(1):103-13.

The effect of excitotoxic hippocampal lesions on simple and conditional discrimination learning in the rat.

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Astra Arcus AB, Södertälje, Sweden.


The effect of excitotoxic lesions of the hippocampus on acquisition and reversal of simple and conditional tasks was investigated using a Y-maze. Hippocampal-lesioned rats were severely impaired on acquisition and reversal of a conditional visuo-spatial task (where different pairs of visually distinctive choice arms indicated whether a left or right arm choice was correct on that trial) and were unable to acquire a visuo-visual conditional discrimination (where the appearance of the start arm indicated which of the visually distinctive choice arms was correct irrespective of their left/right position). They were not impaired on acquisition or reversal of a simple spatial left/right discrimination task (where all arms had the same visual appearance) nor on acquisition of a visual discrimination (where the correct, visually distinctive, choice arm varied in its left/right position). Hippocampal-lesioned rats were, however, impaired on reversal of this visual discrimination task and on acquisition and reversal of another visual discrimination task in which the visually distinctive choice arms were less different from each other than in the first version of this task. The degree of impairment in the lesioned rats was related to task difficulty for the sham-operated rats and was not specific to tasks requiring spatial choices, visual discrimination or conditional responding. The impairment on conditional tasks was greater than the impairment on those non-conditional tasks which happened to be matched for task difficulty for the sham-operated rats, suggesting that the conditional demand may target the function of the hippocampus rather closely. Statistically worse than chance performance by hippocampal-lesioned (and sham-operated) rats at the beginning of reversal testing, which was given 24 h after achieving criterion on acquisition of that task, indicated that hippocampal-lesioned rats simultaneously exhibited good memory but impaired learning for the type of information required for those tasks.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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