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Behav Brain Res. 2009 May 16;199(2):222-34. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2008.11.045. Epub 2008 Dec 3.

Lesion of the ventral and intermediate hippocampus abolishes anticipatory activity in the medial prefrontal cortex of the rat.

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Laboratoire de Neurobiologie de la Cognition, Université de Provence, 3 Place Victor Hugo, 13331 Marseille, France.


The medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) of the rat receives a prominent input from the ventral two thirds of the hippocampus, a structure important for spatial awareness, working memory and motivation. We recently found [Hok V, Lenck-Santini PP, Roux S, Save E, Muller RU, Poucet B. Goal-related activity in hippocampal place cells. J Neurosci 2007;27:472-82.] that neurones in the dorsal hippocampus exhibit anticipatory firing prior to the release of a food pellet on an operant task. Here we look for similar activity in the mPFC on the same task and test whether this activity is dependent on the hippocampus. Rats were trained to navigate to a goal zone, wait for the release of a food pellet and then forage for the pellet while unit activity was recorded in the prelimbic and infralimbic areas of the mPFC. Two 16 min sessions were conducted per day, one session with the goal delimited by a cue disc, the second without the cue. In controls, a large proportion of mPFC neurones exhibited activity similar to that seen in the hippocampus while the animal was stationary at the goal. Over half exhibited the same activity regardless of goal location. Anticipatory activity was largely abolished in animals with bilateral lesions of the ventral and intermediate hippocampus, both in cued and uncued sessions. Even though lesioned animals continued to perform the task, they tended to leave the goal zone prematurely. We suggest that the anticipatory activity in the mPFC is dependent on similar activity in the hippocampus and that both structures have a role in either impulse control or reward expectation.

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