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Behav Neurosci. 2004 Apr;118(2):403-11.

Theta-contingent trial presentation accelerates learning rate and enhances hippocampal plasticity during trace eyeblink conditioning.

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  • 1Miami University, Oxford, OH 45056, USA.


Hippocampal theta activity has been established as a key predictor of acquisition rate in rabbit (Orcytolagus cuniculus) classical conditioning. The current study used an online brain--computer interface to administer conditioning trials only in the explicit presence or absence of spontaneous theta activity in the hippocampus-dependent task of trace conditioning. The findings indicate that animals given theta-contingent training learned significantly faster than those given nontheta-contingent training. In parallel with the behavioral results, the theta-triggered group, and not the nontheta-triggered group, exhibited profound increases in hippocampal conditioned unit responses early in training. The results not only suggest that theta-contingent training has a dramatic facilitory effect on trace conditioning but also implicate theta activity in enhancing the plasticity of hippocampal neurons.

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