Similarities and differences between the brain networks underlying allocentric and egocentric spatial learning in rat revealed by cytochrome oxidase histochemistry.
ABSTRACT The involvement of different brain regions in place- and response-learning was examined using a water cross-maze. Rats were trained to find the goal from the initial arm by turning left at the choice point (egocentric strategy) or by using environmental cues (allocentric strategy). Although different strategies were required, the same maze and learning conditions were used. Using cytochrome oxidase histochemistry as a marker of cellular activity, the function of the 13 diverse cortical and subcortical regions was assessed in rats performing these two tasks. Our results show that allocentric learning depends on the recruitment of a large functional network, which includes the hippocampal CA3, dentate gyrus, medial mammillary nucleus and supramammillary nucleus. Along with the striatum, these last three structures are also related to egocentric spatial learning. The present study provides evidence for the contribution of these regions to spatial navigation and supports a possible functional interaction between the two memory systems, as their structural convergence may facilitate functional cooperation in the behaviours guided by more than one strategy. In summary, it can be argued that spatial learning is based on dynamic functional systems in which the interaction of brain regions is modulated by task requirements.
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ABSTRACT: We have studied the effect of an environmental enrichment (EE) protocol in adult Wistar rats on the activity in the elevated zero-maze (EZM), performance in the radial-arm water maze (RAWM) and we have also examined the changes in the neuronal metabolic activity of several brain regions related to anxiety response and spatial memory through cytochrome c oxidase histochemistry (COx). Our EE protocol had anxiolytic effect in the EZM; the animals spent more time and made more entries into the open quadrants, they had lower latency to enter into the open quadrant and lower levels of defecation. Also, the EE group showed fewer working memory and reference memory errors, as well as lesser distance travelled in the first days of the spatial training. In relation to the neuronal metabolic activity, EE reduced the COx activity in brain regions related to anxiety response, such as the infralimbic cortex, the paraventricular thalamic and hypothalamic nucleus, the basolateral amygdala, and the ventral hippocampus. Interestingly, there were no significant differences between groups in the dorsal hippocampus, more related to spatial cognition. These results suggest a beneficial effect of EE on spatial memory as a result of reducing anxiety levels and the COx activity in brain regions involved in anxiety response. We also found a differential pattern of activation inside the hippocampus, suggesting that the dorsal hippocampus has a preferential involvement in spatial learning and memory, whereas the ventral hippocampus has a role in anxiety response.Brain research bulletin 07/2013; · 2.97 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Patients with minimal hepatic encephalopathy exhibit early impairments in their ability to shift attentional set. We employed a task-switching protocol to evaluate brain network changes. Strategy switching requires the modification of both the relevant stimulus dimension and the required memory system. Rats were trained in an allocentric (A) and a cue-guided (C) task using a four-arm maze. To examine priming, we changed the order in which the tasks were presented. Five groups of animals were used: a SHAM (sham-operated) A-C group (n=10), a SHAM C-A group (n=8), a PH (portal hypertension) A-C group (n=8), PH C-A group (n=8), and a naïve group (n=10). The triple portal vein ligation method was used to create an animal model of the early evolutive phase of PH. The animals were tested in the four-arm radial water maze in a single 10-trial session each day for six days (three days for the allocentric task and three days for the cue-guided task). The metabolic activities of the brains were studied with cytochrome oxidase histochemistry, and brain network changes were assessed with principal component analysis. The behavioural results revealed significant increases in the numbers of correct choices across training days in all groups studied, and facilitation of the acquisition of the second task was present in the C-A groups. Moreover, different brain network activities were found; in the experimental groups, the performance of A-C switch involved the prefrontal cortex, and the key structures involved in the C-A switch in the other groups were the dentate gyrus of the dorsal hippocampus and the basolateral and central amygdala. These networks have a common nucleus of structures (i.e., the parietal cortex and the dorsal and ventral striatum), whereas other structures were specifically involved in each type of strategy, suggesting that these regions are part of both circuits and may interact with one another during learning.Brain research bulletin 04/2014; · 2.97 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: We assessed the effect of 3 hours of EE exposure per day started at different ages (3 and 18 months old) on the performance in a spatial memory task and on brain regions involved in the spatial learning process using the Principal Component Analysis (PCA). The animals were tested in the four-arm radial water maze (4-RAWM) for 4 days, with 6 daily trials. We used cytochrome c oxidase histochemistry (COx) to determine the brain oxidative metabolic changes related to age, spatial learning and EE. Behavioral results showed that the enriched groups, regardless of their age, achieved better performance in the spatial task. Interestingly, in the case of the distance travelled in the 4-RAWM, the effect of the EE was dependent on the age, so the young enriched group travelled a shorter distance compared to the aged enriched group. Respect to COx results, we found that different brain mechanisms are triggered in aged rats to solve the spatial task, compared to young rats. PCA revealed the same brain functional network in both age groups, but the contribution of the brain regions involved in this network was slightly different depending on the age of the rats. Thus, in the aged group, brain regions involved in anxiety-like behaviour, such as the amygdala or the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis had more relevance; whereas in the young enriched group the frontal and the hippocampal subregions had more contribution.Neuroscience 06/2013; 248:43-53. · 3.12 Impact Factor