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Contributions of the medial prefrontal cortex to negative occasion setting

Macleod JE, Ackerman CM, Bucci DJ (2009) Contributions of the medial prefrontal cortex to negative occasion setting. Neuroscience 2009 Abstracts 477.2/FF61. Society for Neuroscience, Chicago, IL.

Summary: The medial prefrontal cortex of rats has a role in many aspects of cognitive function, and especially forms of inhibitory learning. Recent research has revealed heterogeneous functions of the prelimbic (PL) and infralimbic (IL) regions of the medial prefrontal cortex in modulating response inhibition. In a recent study, we tested the effects of separate neurotoxic lesions of the PL or IL in a serial feature negative discrimination paradigm (negative occasion setting). Rats received daily training sessions consisting of 16 trials: on 4 trials in each session, a tone was presented and followed by food reward; on the remaining trials, the tone was preceded by a visual stimulus and not reinforced. Our results indicate that PL but not IL is necessary for learning the discrimination. A second study was conducted to investigate the effects of these lesions on rats that were first extensively trained in this task. We found that rats that had been trained for 30 days prior to receiving PL or IL lesions were still able to perform the task as well as controls. Therefore, PL lesions disrupt acquisition but not performance of a serial feature negative discrimination. This same task has been used in our laboratory to investigate the effects of nicotine on learning. We have shown that nicotine-treated rats exhibit greater discrimination between the two trial types as evidenced by less frequent responding during non-reinforced trials, and learn the discrimination in fewer sessions than control rats. In addition, rats receiving nicotine showed an increase in rearing behavior during the presentation of the light, suggesting nicotine enhanced attention to the visual stimulus. One possible critical site of action for nicotine’s effects is the medial prefrontal cortex. Research in other laboratories utilizing other training procedures suggest that cholinergic activity in the medial prefrontal cortex is critical for attending to behaviorally relevant stimuli, and have implicated the rat PL in visual attention as well as inhibiting prepotent, goal oriented responses. We investigated the contribution of the cholinergic PL to learning the serial feature negative discrimination task by training rats that had received infusions of 192-IgG-saporin into PL to remove cholinergic input from the basal forebrain. No differences between control and lesion rats were observed. Taken together, the results suggest that PL is necessary for acquisition of a serial feature negative discrimination, although the basal forebrain cholinergic input into this region is not required to sufficiently learn the task.

Related Products: 192-IgG-SAP (Cat. #IT-01)

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