Impulsive choice in hippocampal but not orbitofrontal cortex-lesioned rats on a nonspatial decision-making maze task

T. Y. Mariano, D. M. Bannerman, S. B. McHugh, T. J. Preston, P. H. Rudebeck, S. R. Rudebeck, J. N.P. Rawlins, M. E. Walton, M. F.S. Rushworth, M. G. Baxter, T. G. Campbell

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Orbitofrontal cortical (OFC) and hippocampal (HPC) lesions in primates and rodents have been associated with impulsive behaviour. We showed previously that OFC- or HPC-lesioned rats chose the immediate low-reward (LR) option in preference to the delayed high-reward (HR) option, where LR and HR were associated with different spatial responses in a uniform grey T-maze. We now report that on a novel nonspatial T-maze task in which the HR and LR options are associated with patterned goal arms (black-and-white stripes vs. gray), OFC-lesioned rats did not show impulsive behaviour, choosing the delayed HR option, and were indistinguishable from controls. In contrast, HPC-lesioned rats exhibited impulsive choice in the nonspatial decision-making task, although they chose the HR option on the majority of trials when there was a 10-s delay associated with both goal arms. The previously reported impairment in OFC-lesioned rats on the spatial version of the intertemporal choice task is unlikely to reflect a general problem with spatial learning, because OFC lesions were without effect on acquisition of the standard reference memory water-maze task and spatial working memory performance (nonmatching-to-place) on the T-maze. The differential effect of OFC lesions on the two versions of the intertemporal choice task may be explained instead in terms of the putative role of OFC in using associative information to represent expected outcomes and generate predictions. The impulsivity in HPC-lesioned rats may reflect impaired temporal information processing, and emphasizes a role for the hippocampus beyond the spatial domain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)472-484
Number of pages13
JournalEuropean Journal of Neuroscience
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Delay discounting
  • Reversal
  • Spatial
  • T-maze
  • Water maze


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