Role of the Dorsomedial Striatum in Behavioral Flexibility for Response and Visual Cue Discrimination Learning

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These experiments examined the effects of dorsomedial striatal inactivation on the acquisition of a response and visual cue discrimination task, as well as a shift from a response to a visual cue discrimination, and vice versa. In Experiment 1, rats were tested on the response discrimination task followed by the visual cue discrimination task. In Experiment 2, the testing order was reversed. Infusions of 2% tetracaine did not impair acquisition of the response or visual cue discrimination but impaired performance when shifting from a response to a visual cue discrimination, and vice versa. Analysis of the errors revealed that the deficit was not due to perseveration of the previously learned strategy, but to an inability to maintain the new strategy. These results contrast with findings indicating that prelimbic inactivation impairs behavioral flexibility due to perseveration of a previously learned strategy. Thus, specific circuits in the prefrontal cortex and striatum may interact to enable behavioral flexibility, but each region may contribute to distinct processes that facilitate strategy switching.

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