Cerebellar contribution to spatial event processing: do spatial procedures contribute to formation of spatial declarative knowledge?


: Dr Laura Petrosini, as above.
E-mail: laura.petrosini@uniroma1.it


Spatial knowledge of an environment involves two distinct competencies: declarative spatial knowledge, linked to where environmental cues are and where the subject is with respect to the cues, and, at the same time, procedural spatial knowledge, linked to how to move into the environment. It has been previously demonstrated that hemicerebellectomized (HCbed) rats are impaired in developing efficient exploration strategies, but not in building spatial maps or in utilizing localizing cues. The aim of the present study was to analyse the relationships between spatial procedural and declarative knowledge by using the open field test. HCbed rats have been tested in two different protocols of the open field task. The results indicate that HCbed animals succeeded in moving inside the arena, in contacting the objects and in habituating to the new environment. However, HCbed animals did not react to environmental changes, when their impaired explorative pattern was inappropriate to the environment, suggesting that they were not able to represent a new environment because they were not able to explore it appropriately. Nevertheless, when their altered procedures were favoured by object arrangement, they detected environmental changes as efficiently as did normal rats. This finding suggests that no declarative spatial learning is possible without appropriate procedural spatial learning.