Neurotoxic lesions of the medial prefrontal cortex or medial striatum impair multiple-location place learning in the water task: evidence for neural structures with complementary roles in behavioural flexibility
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- McDonald, R.J., King, A.L., Foong, N. et al. Exp Brain Res (2008) 187: 419. doi:10.1007/s00221-008-1314-z
This series of experiments assessed the effects of neurotoxic damage to either the medial prefrontal cortex or the medial striatum on the acquisition of multiple-location place learning in the water task. During training, normal subjects learn to search for a new hidden platform location at the beginning of each training session and to continue to swim to that location until the end of training during that session. By the end of training, normal subjects show one-trail place learning in which they find the new location on the first trial and swim directly to that location on the second swim. Rats with damage to either the medial prefrontal cortex or dorso-medial striatum showed deficits in learning to swim to the new location each day. These deficits were interpreted as impairments in behavioural flexibility. The lesion-induced impairment was not caused by perseverative errors but was manifested in an inability to rapidly acquire a new spatial position in conflict with the previous position. Interestingly, the subjects from both lesion groups were able to show normal place learning and memory after repeated training within a session. The results were interpreted as suggestive of a complementary role of these neural structures in behavioural flexibility.