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Behav Brain Res. 1998 Dec;97(1-2):29-38.

Effects of MK-801 on vicarious trial-and-error and reversal of olfactory discrimination learning in weanling rats.

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Department of Psychology and Institute for Neuroscience, University of Texas at Austin, 78712, USA.


The effects of dizocilpine maleate (MK-801) on vicarious trial-and-error (VTE), and on simultaneous olfactory discrimination learning and its reversal, were observed in weanling rats. The term VTE was used by Tolman (The determiners of behavior at a choice point. Psychol. Rev. 1938;46:318-336), who described it as conflict-like behavior at a choice-point in simultaneous discrimination learning. It takes the form of head movements from one stimulus to the other, and has recently been proposed by Amsel (Hippocampal function in the rat: cognitive mapping or vicarious trial-and-error? Hippocampus, 1993;3:251-256) as related to hippocampal, nonspatial function during this learning. Weanling male rats received systemic MK-801 either 30 min before the onset of olfactory discrimination training and its reversal, or only before its reversal. The MK-801-treated animals needed significantly more sessions to acquire the discrimination and showed significantly fewer VTEs in the acquisition phase of learning. Impaired reversal learning was shown only when MK-801 was administered during the reversal-learning phase, itself, and not when it was administered throughout both phases.

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