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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2001 Mar 13;98(6):3531-6.

Inactivating one hippocampus impairs avoidance of a stable room-defined place during dissociation of arena cues from room cues by rotation of the arena.

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Department of Experimental Psychology and Psychobiology, University of Almeria, 04120, La Cañada de San Urbano, Spain.


Unilateral intrahippocampal injections of tetrodotoxin were used to temporarily inactivate one hippocampus during specific phases of training in an active allothetic place avoidance task. The rat was required to use landmarks in the room to avoid a room-defined sector of a slowly rotating circular arena. The continuous rotation dissociated room cues from arena cues and moved the arena surface through a part of the room in which foot-shock was delivered. The rat had to move away from the shock zone to prevent being transported there by the rotation. Unilateral hippocampal inactivations profoundly impaired acquisition and retrieval of the allothetic place avoidance. Posttraining unilateral hippocampal inactivation also impaired performance in subsequent sessions. This allothetic place avoidance task seems more sensitive to hippocampal disruption than the standard water maze task because the same unilateral hippocampal inactivation does not impair performance of the variable-start, fixed hidden goal task after procedural training. The results suggest that the hippocampus not only encodes allothetic relationships amongst landmarks, it also organizes perceived allothetic stimuli into systems of mutually stable coordinates. The latter function apparently requires greater hippocampal integrity.

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