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Keywords:

  • 6-hydroxydopamine;
  • egocentric;
  • extrapersonal space;
  • quinolinic acid;
  • response space;
  • striatum

Abstract

Dysfunction of the neostriatum, a primary feature of several neurodegenerative disorders, including Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease, has been found to result in impaired localisation of, and reaction to, contralateral stimuli. On the basis of previous findings, it is hypothesised that, with increasing eccentricity of the response option, striatal cell loss may impair response localisation at the furthest levels of eccentricity, whereas dopamine (DA) depletion may not impact adversely upon responses executed in this extrapersonal space. In order to elucidate more fully the function of the striatum, the present study examined the differential impact of unilateral DA depletion or excitoxic lesion on response execution in ipsilateral and contralateral space at up to four levels of eccentricity. The results confirmed that, after both types of striatal dysfunction, the sensory ability to detect stimuli remains intact, whereas the ability to direct responses in absolute contralateral space is impaired. Distinct differences in the profiles of impairment were, however, evident, with a marked increase in response omissions observed after DA depletion, which may reflect decreased motivational processing, and recovery of function observed in rats with excitotoxic lesions, which suggests the ability to re-learn. Furthermore, the data demonstrate that, after cell loss, responding in near contralateral space is controlled by competing striata, whereas responding in extrapersonal space relies on the contralateral hemisphere. These results have implications for understanding the role of the striatum in egocentrically defined response localisation, as well as for unravelling the behavioural impact of striatal cell loss or aberrant DA transmission observed in neurodegenerative diseases.