Spatial memory and choice behavior in the radial arm maze after fornix transection.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry, Volume 26, Issue 6, p.1113-23 (2002)


Animals, Choice Behavior, Fornix, Brain, Male, Maze Learning, Memory, Memory, Short-Term, Psychomotor Performance, Rats, Rats, Long-Evans


<p>In the radial arm maze task, it is well established that performance of rats with hippocampal damage is severely impaired on the place version, which relies heavily, if not exclusively, on spatial information. However, very little is known about the effects of hippocampal damage on actual choice behavior. To address this issue, sham-operated (SH) and fornix-transected (FX) rats were trained and tested on the place task in the eight-arm radial maze. The following measures were recorded: the frequency of re-entry errors, the number of choices separating repeated visits to the same arm, the latency to arm re-entry, the distribution and targets of microchoices defined as orientations toward an arm or entries in the proximal portion of an arm [Brown, M.F., 1992. Does a cognitive map guide choices in the radial arm maze? J. Exp. Psychol., Anim. Behav. Processes 18, 56-66]. These measures were used as indexes of performance, within-trial retroactive intrusion, memory trace decay and choice behavior, respectively. As generally observed in the literature, the frequency of errors was higher in rats of the FX group than in rats of the SH group; the impairment persisted even after the training criterion was reached. The analysis of latency to arm re-entry and of the number of choices separating re-entries suggested that this impairment was the result of faster memory decay rather than retroactive interference. Both FX and SH groups exhibited a systematic pattern of microchoices, but the frequency of microchoices was higher in FX lesioned rats than in SH controls. Moreover, in lesioned animals, relatively fewer of the initial microchoices were directed toward the baited arms during training-to-criterion. Some of the results provide support to the working memory theory [Olton, D.S., Becker, J.T., Handelmann, G.E., 1979. Hippocampus, space, and memory. Behav. Brain Sci. 2, 313-365], whereas others look more consistent with the cognitive map view [O'Keefe, J., Nadel, L., 1978. The Hippocampus as a Cognitive Map. Clarendon Press, Oxford]. The discussion suggests that both theories and a distinction between prospective and retrospective memory may be required to account for the function of the hippocampal formation in memory.</p>

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