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Eur J Neurosci. 2005 Aug;22(3):745-54.

Spatial learning with unilateral and bilateral hippocampal networks.

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Division of Neuroscience, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK.


This study investigated the ability of animals to learn both reference memory and delayed matching-to-place variants of the watermaze after large lesions of the hippocampus that deliberately spared only small remnants of the structure. Groups were created that had differing blocks of residual tissue in the septal pole of the hippocampus (15% or 30% of total volume), located either unilaterally (30 or 50% on one side, 0% on the other) or bilaterally (30 + 30%). These groups were capable of learning the reference memory task, as indexed by normal spatially focused searching in a probe trial, but their rate of learning was slower than that of sham-lesioned rats. An impairment in the rate of learning was also seen in the delayed match-to-place task, where one-trial memory was observed only at the shortest (5 s) intertrial interval in the lesioned groups with the largest sparing. In both tasks performance was proportional to the volume of hippocampus spared and independent of whether this was unilaterally or bilaterally located. The findings are compatible with distributed processing accounts of hippocampal memory storage.

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