• Rats were able to learn about a gustatory stimulus in its absence. • Mediated learning was not affected by pretraining basolateral amygdala lesions. • Mediated learning was attenuated by dorsal hippocampal inactivation. • The dorsal hippocampus is generally involved in representational learning.
Mediated learning is a unique cognitive phenomenon in which mental representations of physically absent stimuli enter into associations with directly-activated representations of physically present stimuli. Three experiments investigated the functional physiology of mediated learning involving the use of odor–taste associations. In Experiments 1a and 1b, basolateral amygdala lesions failed to attenuate mediated taste aversion learning. In Experiment 2, dorsal hippocampus inactivation impaired mediated learning, but left direct learning intact. Considered with past studies, the results implicate the dorsal hippocampus in mediated learning generally, and suggest a limit on the importance of the basolateral amygdala.