Disconnecting hippocampal projections to the anterior thalamus produces deficits on tests of spatial memory in rats

Eur J Neurosci. 2000 May;12(5):1714-26. doi: 10.1046/j.1460-9568.2000.00039.x.


A disconnection procedure was used to test whether projections from the hippocampus to the anterior thalamic nuclei (AT), via the fimbria-fornix (FX), form functional components of a spatial memory system. The behavioural effects of combined unilateral lesions in the AT and FX were compared when they were either in contralateral hemispheres (AT-FX Contra) or the same hemisphere (AT-FX Ipsi). Other groups received bilateral FX lesions and Sham surgeries. Expt 1 demonstrated that none of these lesions affected performance of an object recognition task, while performance of an object location task, which tests the subjects' preference for an object that has changed location, was impaired in the AT-FX Contra and FX groups. In a T-maze alternation task, however, the FX group was severely impaired while both the AT-FX Ipsi and AT-FX Contra lesion groups showed only a mild impairment. In order to test whether spared crossed projections might support spatial performance in the AT-FX Contra group we then examined the effects of a combined AT-FX Contra lesion coupled with transection of the hippocampal commissure. This combination of lesions produced a severe disruption in spatial memory performance in the water maze, radial arm maze and T-maze, which was significantly greater than that produced by ipsilateral and contralateral AT-FX lesions alone. These results support the notion that disconnection of the AT from their hippocampal inputs produces impairments on a range of spatial memory tasks, but indicate that there are an array of different routes that can subserve this function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anterior Thalamic Nuclei / physiology*
  • Discrimination, Psychological
  • Functional Laterality
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Male
  • Maze Learning*
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Space Perception