Using Signaled Barpressing Tasks to Study the Neural Substrates of Appetitive and Aversive Learning in Rats: Behavioral Manipulations and Cerebellar Lesions

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Abstract

The development of standard within-subject conditioning tasks for studying similarities and differences in the neural substrates of appetitive and aversive learning is described. Rats learned to press a bar during a brief tone presentation to receive a food pellet reward (the appetitive task). Using the same tone signal, conditioning chamber, and trial timing parameters, the same rats were then trained to press the bar during the tone presentation to avoid a mild footshock (the aversive task). As an initial study of the neural substrates of these forms of learning, the involvement of the cerebellum was assessed. Bilateral lesions of the deep cerebellar nuclei prevented the learning of the aversive task but had no effect on the learning of the appetitive task.

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