A Study of Hippocampal Structure-function Relations
Jarrard, Leonard E., 1930-
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This study examined structural-functional differences along the septo-temporal axis of hippocampus using radial-maze tasks that involved two different memory processes (reference memory (RM),working memory (WM)), and the utilization of two kinds of information (spatial vs. nonspatial cue learning). In addition, retention of the nonspatial cue task was tested nine weeks following completion of acquisition, and the rats then underwent discrimination reversal training. Ibotenic acid lesions limited to either the dorsal pole, intermediate area, or ventral pole had minimal effects on acquisition of the complex place and cue discrimination tasks. The one exception was that rats with lesions confined to the dorsal third of hippocampus made more WM errors on the spatial task (but not the cue task) early in training. Selective lesions of the three hippocampal regions had no effects on either long-term retention or reversal of the nonspatial cue discrimination task. In contrast, rats that had all of the hippocampus removed were severely impaired in learning the spatial task, making many RM and WM errors, while on the nonspatial cue task the impairment was limited to WM errors. Further analysis of the WM errors made in acquisition showed that rats with complete lesions were significantly more likely on both the spatial and nonspatial cue tasks to reenter arms that had been baited and visited on that trial compared to arms that had not been baited. A similar pattern of errors emerged for complete hippocampal lesioned rats during reversal discrimination. This pattern of errors suggests that in addition to an impairment in handling spatial information, complete removal of hippocampus also interferes with the ability to inhibit responding to cues that signal reward under some conditions but not under others. The finding that selective lesions limited to the intermediate zone of the hippocampus produce no impairment in either working memory (‘rapid place learning’) or reference memory in our radial maze tasks serve to limit the generality of the conclusion of Bast et al. (2009) that the intermediate area is needed for behavioral performance based on rapid learning about spatial cues.