Acquisition of Conditioned Inhibition in Rats is Impaired by Ablation of Serotoninergic Pathways


Correspondence to: G. A. Foster, School of Molecular and Medical Biosciences, University of Wales College of Cardiff, PO Box 911, Cardiff CF1 3US, UK or J. M. Pearce, School of Psychology, University of Wales College of Cardiff, Cardiff CF1 3JG, UK


The effects of chronically ablating the serotoninergic inputs to various regions of the rat brain on the ability to solve a feature-negative discrimination was measured. After intracerebroventricular administration of the specific neurotoxin 5, 7-dihydroxytryptamine, the rats exhibited an impaired capacity to solve such a discrimination, irrespective of whether auditory or visual stimuli were used. Further behavioural analysis revealed that this effect was not due to a reduced capacity to form excitatory associations, since both groups responded equally to reinforced stimuli. By contrast, the lesion more likely resulted in a failure to endow the non-reinforced stimuli with inhibitory properties. This suggestion was supported by the observation that, in a retardation test, the conditioned inhibitor aroused less inhibition in the lesioned group than in vehicle-injected controls. Furthermore, the conditioned inhibitor failed to pass a summation test in lesioned animals, again indicating that their hampered ability to master the discrimination was the result of an impairment in the formation of inhibitory associations. It is concluded that destruction of central 5-hydroxytryptamine-containing pathways impairs the functioning of brain areas underlying inhibitory associative learning.