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The impact of anterior thalamic lesions on active and passive spatial learning in stimulus controlled environments: Geometric cues and pattern arrangement

Dumont, Julie R., Wright, Nicholas Fraser, Pearce, John M. and Aggleton, John Patrick 2014. The impact of anterior thalamic lesions on active and passive spatial learning in stimulus controlled environments: Geometric cues and pattern arrangement. Behavioral Neuroscience 128 (2) , pp. 161-177. 10.1037/a0036280

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Abstract

The anterior thalamic nuclei are vital for many spatial tasks. To determine more precisely their role, the present study modified the conventional Morris watermaze task. In each of 3 experiments, rats were repeatedly placed on a submerged platform in 1 corner (the ‘correct’ corner) of either a rectangular pool (Experiment 1) or a square pool with walls of different appearances (Experiments 2 and 3). The rats were then released into the pool for a first test trial in the absence of the platform. In Experiment 1, normal rats distinguished the 2 sets of corners in the rectangular pool by their geometric properties, preferring the correct corner and its diagonally opposite partner. Anterior thalamic lesions severely impaired this discrimination. In Experiments 2 and 3, normal rats typically swam directly to the correct corner of the square pool on the first test trial. Rats with anterior thalamic lesions, however, often failed to initially select the correct corner, taking more time to reach that location. Nevertheless, the lesioned rats still showed a subsequent preference for the correct corner. The same lesioned rats also showed no deficits in Experiments 2 and 3 when subsequently trained to swim to the correct corner over repeated trials. The findings show how the anterior thalamic nuclei contribute to multiple aspects of spatial processing. These thalamic nuclei may be required to distinguish relative dimensions (Experiment 1) as well as translate the appearance of spatial cues when viewed for the first time from different perspectives (Experiments 2, 3).

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
Psychology
Neuroscience and Mental Health Research Institute (NMHRI)
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
Publisher: American Psychological Association
ISSN: 1939-0084
Funders: Wellcome Trust
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Date of Acceptance: 1 April 2014
Last Modified: 14 Mar 2019 10:32
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/65224

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