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Brain Res. 2002 Feb 8;927(1):69-79.

Behavioral effects of excitotoxic lesions of ventral medial prefrontal cortex in the rat are hemisphere-dependent.

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Centre de Recherche Fernand-Seguin, Department of Psychiatry, Université de Montréal, 7331, rue Hochelaga, Québec, H1N 3V2, Montréal, Canada.


The ventral region of the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) is highly sensitive to stressful inputs and implicated in a variety of behaviors. Studies have also demonstrated numerous functional hemispheric asymmetries within this brain area of the rat. The present study examines the effects of ibotenic acid or sham lesions targeting the left, right or bilateral infralimbic cortex, on a variety of behaviors. Lesions (which destroyed infralimbic and ventral prelimbic cortex) were without effect on acquisition or reversal of a spatial learning task in the Morris water maze. Similarly unaffected were spontaneous and amphetamine-induced locomotor activity and sensitization, and prepulse inhibition of the acoustic startle response. In contrast, lesions significantly affected behavior in the elevated plus maze, as right-lesioned animals spent more time exploring the open arms of the maze than shams or left-lesioned rats, while not differing in closed arm entries. As well, in a simple taste aversion paradigm, right-lesioned rats drank significantly more of a sweetened milk/quinine solution than shams and left-lesioned rats, despite not differing in consumption of sweetened milk alone. The anxiolytic effects of right, but not left lesions of ventral mPFC, parallel the asymmetrical suppression of physiological stress responses previously reported for similar lesions. It is suggested that the right ventral mPFC plays a primary role in optimizing cautious and adaptive behavior in potentially threatening situations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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