A new touchscreen test of pattern separation: effect of hippocampal lesions

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Researchers are becoming increasingly interested in the role of the hippocampus in pattern separation, a process which keeps items distinct in memory. In this study, we develop and test a new automated touchscreen-based method for studying pattern separation in rodents. Rats were trained to discriminate locations on a computer screen that varied in their similarity, that is, their distance apart on the screen. Animals with lesions of the dorsal hippocampus were impaired when the locations discriminated were close together but not when they were far apart, indicating impaired pattern separation. This test provides an automated test of pattern separation, which adds to an expanding battery of cognitive tests that can be carried out using the touchscreen testing method.

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