Conditioning with spatio-temporal patterns: Constraining the contribution of the hippocampus to configural learning

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The conditions under which the hippocampus contributes to learning about spatio-temporal configural patterns are not fully established. The aim of Experiments 1–4 was to investigate the impact of hippocampal lesions on learning about where or when a reinforcer would be delivered. In each experiment, the rats received exposure to an identical set of patterns (i.e., spotted + morning, checked + morning, spotted + afternoon and checked + afternoon); and the contexts (Experiment 1), times of day (Experiment 2), or their configuration (Experiments 3 and 4) signalled whether or not a reinforcer would be delivered. The fact that hippocampal damage did not disrupt the formation of simple or configural associations involving spatio-temporal patterns is surprising, and suggests that the contribution of the hippocampus is restricted to mediated learning (or updating) involving spatio-temporal configurations.

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