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Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2010 Jan;93(1):92-8. doi: 10.1016/j.nlm.2009.08.008. Epub 2009 Aug 23.

Medial auditory thalamic input to the lateral pontine nuclei is necessary for auditory eyeblink conditioning.

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Department of Psychology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA.


Auditory and visual conditioned stimulus (CS) pathways for eyeblink conditioning were investigated with reversible inactivation of the medial (MPN) or lateral (LPN) pontine nuclei. In Experiment 1, Long-Evans rats were given three phases of eyeblink conditioning. Phase 1 consisted of three training sessions with electrical stimulation of the medial auditory thalamic nuclei (MATN) paired with a periorbital shock unconditioned stimulus (US). An additional session was given with a muscimol (0.5muL, 10mM) or saline infusion targeting the LPN followed by a recovery session with no infusions. The same training and testing sequence was then repeated with either a tone or light CS in phases 2 and 3 (counterbalanced). Experiment 2 consisted of the same training as Experiment 1 except that muscimol or saline was infused in the MPN during the retention tests. Muscimol infusions targeting the LPN severely impaired retention of eyeblink conditioned responses (CRs) to the MATN stimulation and tone CSs but only partially reduced CR percentage to the light CS. Muscimol infusions that targeted the MPN had a larger effect on CR retention to the light CS relative to MATN stimulation or tone CSs. The results provide evidence that the auditory CS pathway necessary for delay eyeblink conditioning includes the MATN-LPN projection and the visual CS pathway includes the MPN.

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