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Keywords:

  • hippocampus;
  • anterior thalamic nuclei;
  • disconnection;
  • memory

Abstract

Rats with lesions to the anterior or posterior (retrosplenial) region of the cingulate cortex and rats with lesions that included both the anterior and posterior cingulate cortex were tested on a visual–spatial conditional task in which they had to learn to approach one of the two objects depending on the spatial context within which they were embedded. Lesions restricted to either the anterior or the retrosplenial cingulate region did not impair learning of this task which is known to be very sensitive to the effects of hippocampal lesions. Complete lesions of the cingulate cortex gave rise to only a minor retardation in learning. In contrast, lesions to the retrosplenial cortex impaired performance on a spatial navigation task and the classic radial maze. These results suggest that the retrosplenial portion of the cingulate region forms part of a hippocampal circuit underlying learning about spatial responses. The dissociation between the effects of lesions of the cingulate region on different classes of behavior known to be associated with hippocampal function suggests that, although this neural structure does play a role in an extended hippocampal circuit underlying spatial learning, its role in such learning may be a selective one. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.