Lesions of the Mediodorsal Nucleus of the Thalamus and Classical Eyeblink Conditioning Under Less-Than-Optimal Stimulus Conditions: Role of Partial Reinforcement and Interstimulus Interval

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Rabbits received lesions of the mediodorsal nucleus of the thalamus (MD) or sham lesions and were subjected to classical eyeblink (EB) and heart rate (HR) conditioning. Separate groups of sham and lesioned animals received either 50% or 25% reinforcement with a periorbital shock unconditioned stimulus. Other groups received an interstimulus interval of either 1.0 or 1.5 s. Animals with MD lesions acquired the EB conditioned response (CR) more slowly than sham-lesioned animals with either the 1.5-s ISI or with the 25% reinforcement schedule. The lesions had no significant effect on the HR CR, however. Results suggest that information processed by MD is relayed to the prefrontal cortex and is required for somatomotor response selection under nonoptimal learning conditions.

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