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Contextual modulation of spatial discrimination reversal in developing rats.

Authors
  • Pagani, Jerome H
  • Brown, Kevin L
  • Stanton, Mark E
Type
Published Article
Journal
Developmental psychobiology
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2005
Volume
46
Issue
1
Pages
36–46
Identifiers
PMID: 15690387
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

Reversal of discrimination learning is influenced by manipulation of the training context. In adult and developing rats, contextual changes made between acquisition and reversal aid the learning of the new discrimination, possibly by serving to release proactive interference from the originally acquired discrimination (M. E. Bouton & D. C. Brooks, 1993; N. Spear, G. Smith, R. Bryan, & W. Gordon, 1980). The present study sought to examine this effect in an appetitive T-maze task, as a function of different contextual manipulations. Rats of three ages, Postnatal Day (PND) 19, PND23, and PND30, were tested for their ability to acquire and reverse a position habit in a T-maze. Contextual changes were made between acquisition and reversal sessions and consisted of one of three manipulations: (a) texture; the texture of the maze floor was changed via the addition or subtraction of wire mesh; (b) maze; subjects were reversed in a different maze that was identical in construction to the training maze, but differed in spatial location; (c) texture and maze; subjects were shifted to the new maze, the floor of which differed in texture from the training maze but was otherwise identical in construction. Results showed that the texture-maze combination was an effective aid to reversal learning at all ages tested. The texture alone, however, was not effective at any age. The maze alone also was an effective cue for reversal, but proved to have the greatest effect for PND30 subjects. During ontogeny, the contextual modulation of reversal learning is importantly influenced by the nature and the salience of the contextual cue.

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