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Behav Brain Res. 1997 Mar;84(1-2):73-9.

Spatial delayed alternation of rats in a T-maze: effects of neurotoxic lesions of the medial prefrontal cortex and of T-maze rotations.

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Graduate School of Neurosciences Amsterdam, Netherlands Institute for Brain Research.


The medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) is usually considered to be a brain area important for working memory processes. In rats this statement is evidenced by their diminished performance in delay-type tasks following mPFC damage, notably in spatial delayed alternation (SDA) in a T-maze. This study has addressed two questions. First, to examine whether the functional deficiency in SDA, observed in rats with (usually large) mPFC damage, can be ascribed to an anatomically defined subarea of mPFC, the dorsal anterior cingulate area (ACd). Small, bilateral, NMDA-induced lesions were made, restricted to the dorsal part of mPFC. The performance of such animals in a T-maze paradigm, using delays of 0 and 15 s, was compared with sham-operated animals. Although these small lesions resulted in an increased number of perseverative errors, this effect was not delay-dependent, and, moreover, by the end of the training group differences had disappeared. The second aim was to study whether or not spatial (extra-maze) cues are important for the performance of this task. This was achieved by subjecting the well-trained sham-operated animals to a series of systematic trial-to-trial variations in the position of the maze in the experimental room. These spatial manipulations severely impaired the performance of the SDA task, indicating that extra-maze information is required to solve this task. In animals with ACd lesions, subjected to the same manipulations, the deficiency was comparable to that of the sham-operated animals.

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