Triple Dissociation of Anterior Cingulate, Posterior Cingulate, and Medial Frontal Cortices on Visual Discrimination Tasks Using a Touchscreen Testing Procedure for the Rat

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Four experiments examined effects of quinolinic acid-induced lesions of the anterior cingulate, posterior cingulate, and medial frontal cortices on tests of visual discrimination learning, using a new “touchscreen” testing method for rats. Anterior cingulate cortex lesions impaired acquisition of an 8-pair concurrent discrimination task, whereas posterior cingulate cortex lesions facilitated learning but selectively impaired the late stages of acquisition of a visuospatial conditional discrimination. Medial frontal cortex lesions selectively impaired reversal learning when stimuli were difficult to discriminate; lesions of anterior and posterior cingulate cortex had no effect. These results suggest roles for the anterior cingulate, posterior cingulate, and medial frontal cortex in stimulus–reward learning, stimulus–response learning or response generation, and attention during learning, respectively.

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