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PLoS One. 2017 May 3;12(5):e0176295. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0176295. eCollection 2017.

Comparison of the spatial-cognitive functions of dorsomedial striatum and anterior cingulate cortex in mice.

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Department of Psychology, Laboratory of Biological Psychology, University of Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.
Department of Biology, Laboratory of Neuroplasticity and Neuroproteomics, University of Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.
Department of Biochemistry, McGill University, Montreal, Canada.


Neurons in anterior cingulate cortex (aCC) project to dorsomedial striatum (DMS) as part of a corticostriatal circuit with putative roles in learning and other cognitive functions. In the present study, the spatial-cognitive importance of aCC and DMS was assessed in the hidden-platform version of the Morris water maze (MWM). Brain lesion experiments that focused on areas of connectivity between these regions indicated their involvement in spatial cognition. MWM learning curves were markedly delayed in DMS-lesioned mice in the absence of other major functional impairments, whereas there was a more subtle, but still significant influence of aCC lesions. Lesioned mice displayed impaired abilities to use spatial search strategies, increased thigmotaxic swimming, and decreased searching in the proximity of the escape platform. Additionally, aCC and DMS activity was compared in mice between the early acquisition phase (2 and 3 days of training) and the over-trained high-proficiency phase (after 30 days of training). Neuroplasticity-related expression of the immediate early gene Arc implicated both regions during the goal-directed, early phases of spatial learning. These results suggest the functional involvement of aCC and DMS in processes of spatial cognition that model associative cortex-dependent, human episodic memory abilities.

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