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Exp Neurol. 1992 May;116(2):122-32.

Quantitative effects of cerebral infarction on spatial learning in rats.

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Department of Neurosciences, University of California, San Diego.


Outcome following stroke is difficult to measure because the behavioral response to infarction is variable. We hypothesized that cognitive function, such as spatial learning, may be a reproducible and sensitive outcome variable. We developed an animal model of multifocal cerebral ischemia in order to study the effects of infarction on learning. To cause ischemia, several hundred microspheres were injected into the internal carotid arteries of rats. After ischemia, behavior was measured using a global rating and a Morris water maze. Postmortem serial brain sections were stained and the size of the infarctions was measured. We found that intracerebral microspheres caused cortical infarction and an impairment of spatial learning. This impairment was not due to occlusion of the internal carotid artery and was not found in animals who received a sham injection of saline. The degree of learning impairment was not correlated with the volume density of the infarctions or with the volume density of the remaining cerebral hemisphere. The learning impairment clearly differentiated normal from lesioned animals, and the impairment was probably due to a delay in acquisition of spatial information rather than a defect in retention or retrieval. Measurement of learning deficit after cerebral ischemia is an efficient and sensitive method for evaluating new stroke treatments and possibly for exploring structure function relationships.

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