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Hippocampus

The role of the hippocampus in passive and active spatial learning.


PMID 25131441

Abstract

Rats with lesions of the hippocampus or sham lesions were required in four experiments to escape from a square swimming pool by finding a submerged platform. Experiments 1 and 2 commenced with passive training in which rats were repeatedly placed on the platform in one corner-the correct corner-of a pool with distinctive walls. A test trial then revealed a strong preference for the correct corner in the sham but not the hippocampal group. Subsequent active training of being required to swim to the platform resulted in both groups acquiring a preference for the correct corner in the two experiments. In Experiments 3 and 4, rats were required to solve a discrimination between different panels pasted to the walls of the pool, by swimming to the middle of a correct panel. Hippocampal lesions prevented a discrimination being formed between panels of different lengths (Experiment 3), but not between panels showing lines of different orientations (Experiment 4); rats with sham lesions mastered both problems. It is suggested that an intact hippocampus is necessary for the formation of stimulus-goal associations that permit successful passive spatial leaning. It is further suggested that an intact hippocampus is not necessary for the formation of stimulus-response associations, except when they involve information about length or distance.

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