Instrumental learning within the rat spinal cord: localization of the essential neural circuit. Academic Article uri icon


  • Following spinal transection of the upper thoracic spinal cord, male Sprague-Dawley rats given legshock whenever a hindlimb is extended learn to maintain the leg in a flexed position. The region of the cord that mediates this instrumental learning was isolated using neuroanatomical tracing, localized infusion of lidocaine, and surgical transections. DiI and Fluoro-Gold microinjection at the site of shock application labeled motor neuron bodies of lamina IX in the lower lumbar region. Local application of the Na-super++ channel blocker lidocaine disrupted learning when it was applied over a region extending from the lower lumbar (L3) to upper sacral (S2) cord. The drug had no effect rostral or caudal to this region. Surgical transections as low as L4 had no effect on learning. Learning also survived a dual transection at L4 and S3, but not L4 and S2. The results suggest that the essential neural circuit lies between L4 and S3.

published proceedings

  • Behav Neurosci

altmetric score

  • 1

author list (cited authors)

  • Liu, G. T., Ferguson, A. R., Crown, E. D., Bopp, A. C., Miranda, R. C., & Grau, J. W.

citation count

  • 31

complete list of authors

  • Liu, Grace T||Ferguson, Adam R||Crown, Eric D||Bopp, Anne C||Miranda, Rajesh C||Grau, James W

publication date

  • April 2005