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Loss of Hierarchical Control by Occasion Setters Following Lesions of the Prelimbic and Infralimbic Medial Prefrontal Cortex in Rats

School of Psychology, University of New South Wales, Sydney 2052, Australia
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Brain Sci. 2019, 9(3), 48; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci9030048
Received: 31 January 2019 / Revised: 21 February 2019 / Accepted: 26 February 2019 / Published: 26 February 2019
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Abstract

Recent work suggests complementary roles of the prelimbic and infralimbic regions of the rat medial prefrontal cortex in cognitive control processes, with the prelimbic cortex implicated in top-down modulation of associations and the infralimbic cortex playing a role in the inhibition of inappropriate responses. Following selective lesions made to prelimbic or infralimbic regions (or control sham-surgery) rats received simultaneous training on Pavlovian feature negative (A+, XA−) and feature positive (B−, YB+) discriminations designed to lead to hierarchical occasion-setting control by the features (X, Y) over their respective targets (A, B). Evidence for hierarchical control was assessed in a transfer test in which features and targets were swapped (YA, XB). All groups were able to learn the feature negative and feature positive discriminations. Whilst sham-lesioned animals showed no transfer of control by features to novel targets (a hallmark of hierarchical control), rats with lesions of prelimbic or infralimbic regions showed evidence of transfer from the positive feature (Y) to the negative target (A), and from the negative feature (X) to the positive target (B; although this only achieved significance in infralimbic-lesioned animals). These data indicate that damage to either of these regions disrupts hierarchical occasion-setting control, extending our knowledge of their role in cognitive control to encompass flexible behaviours dictated by discrete cues. View Full-Text
Keywords: prelimbic; infralimbic; medial prefrontal cortex; cognitive control; hierarchical control; occasion setting; extinction; Pavlovian prelimbic; infralimbic; medial prefrontal cortex; cognitive control; hierarchical control; occasion setting; extinction; Pavlovian
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Roughley, S.; Killcross, S. Loss of Hierarchical Control by Occasion Setters Following Lesions of the Prelimbic and Infralimbic Medial Prefrontal Cortex in Rats. Brain Sci. 2019, 9, 48.

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