Ventral hippocampus mediates the context-dependence of two-way signaled avoidance in male rats.
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Considerable work indicates that instrumental responding is context-dependent, but the neural mechanisms underlying this phenomenon are poorly understood. Given the important role for the hippocampal formation in contextual processing, we hypothesized that reversible inactivation of the hippocampus would impair the context-dependence of active avoidance. To test this hypothesis, we used a two-way signaled active avoidance (SAA) task that requires rats to shuttle across a divided chamber during a tone CS in order to avoid a footshock US. After training, avoidance responding was assessed in an extinction test in both the training context and a novel context in a counterbalanced order. Rats performed significantly more avoidance responses in the training context than in the novel context, demonstrating the context-dependence of shuttle avoidance behavior. To examine the role of the hippocampus in the context-dependence of SAA, we reversibly inactivated either the dorsal (DH) or ventral hippocampus (VH) prior to testing. Inactivation of the VH eliminated the context-dependence of SAA and elevated avoidance responding in the novel context to levels similar to that expressed in the training context. In contrast, DH inactivation had no effect on avoidance in either context, and neither manipulation affected freezing behavior. Therefore, the integrity of the VH, but not DH, is required for the expression of the context-dependence of avoidance behavior.
author list (cited authors)
Oleksiak, C. R., Ramanathan, K. R., Miles, O. W., Perry, S. J., Maren, S., & Moscarello, J. M
complete list of authors
Oleksiak, Cecily R||Ramanathan, Karthik R||Miles, Olivia W||Perry, Sarah J||Maren, Stephen||Moscarello, Justin M