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Behav Neurosci. 1996 Jun;110(3):460-7.

Intact spatial learning in both young and aged rats following selective removal of hippocampal cholinergic input.

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Department of Psychology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 27599-3270, USA.


Studies using the selective cholinergic immunotoxin 192 IgG-saporin have demonstrated that lesions of the cholinergic input to the hippocampus from the medial septum/vertical limb of the diagonal band (MS/VDB) do not disrupt spatial learning in the water maze in young rats. However, age-related deficits in spatial learning correlate with the integrity of cholinergic neurons in the MS/VDB, suggesting that these neurons may be more crucial for spatial learning in aged rats. To investigate this hypothesis directly, we selectively lesioned these neurons in aged rats that demonstrated relatively intact spatial learning in an initial screening as well as in a comparison set of young rats. Intact and lesioned rats of both ages rapidly acquired a new place discrimination in a different spatial environment. These results indicate that the cholinergic input to the hippocampus is not differentially involved in spatial learning in aged rats.

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