Flexible spatial learning requires both the dorsal and ventral hippocampus and their functional interactions with the prefrontal cortex

Philip D. Avigan, Katharine Cammack, Matthew L. Shapiro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations

Abstract

When faced with changing contingencies, animals can use memory to flexibly guide actions, engaging both frontal and temporal lobe brain structures. Damage to the hippocampus (HPC) impairs episodic memory, and damage to the prefrontal cortex (PFC) impairs cognitive flexibility, but the circuit mechanisms by which these areas support flexible memory processing remain unclear. The present study investigated these mechanisms by temporarily inactivating the medial PFC (mPFC), the dorsal HPC (dHPC), and the ventral HPC (vHPC), individually and in combination, as rats learned spatial discriminations and reversals in a plus maze. Bilateral inactivation of either the dHPC or vHPC profoundly impaired spatial learning and memory, whereas bilateral mPFC inactivation primarily impaired reversal versus discrimination learning. Inactivation of unilateral mPFC together with the contralateral dHPC or vHPC impaired spatial discrimination and reversal learning, whereas ipsilateral inactivation did not. Flexible spatial learning thus depends on both the dHPC and vHPC and their functional interactions with the mPFC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)733-744
Number of pages12
JournalHippocampus
Volume30
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2020

Keywords

  • executive function
  • hippocampus
  • learning
  • memory
  • prefrontal cortex
  • spatial memory
  • temporal lobe

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