Contrasting effects on discrimination learning after hippocampal lesions and conjoint hippocampal-caudate lesions in monkeys

J Neurosci. 2000 May 15;20(10):3853-63. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.20-10-03853.2000.


Eighteen monkeys with lesions of the hippocampal region (the hippocampus proper, the dentate gyrus, and the subiculum) made by an ischemic procedure, radio frequency, or ibotenic acid were tested on a simple, two-choice object discrimination learning task that has been shown to be sensitive to large lesions of the medial temporal lobe. The monkeys were also tested on two other discrimination tasks (pattern discrimination and eight-pair concurrent discrimination) that can be learned normally by monkeys with large medial temporal lobe lesions. All of the lesion groups were impaired at learning the simple object discrimination task. Seven of the monkeys who had sustained damage to the hippocampal region also sustained damage to the tail of the caudate nucleus. These seven monkeys, but not the other 11 monkeys with hippocampal lesions, were impaired on pattern discrimination and concurrent discrimination learning. The results suggest that the hippocampal region is important for learning easy, two-choice discriminations, whereas the caudate nucleus is necessary for the normal learning of more difficult, gradually acquired discrimination tasks. The findings support the distinction between declarative memory, which depends on the hippocampus and related medial temporal lobe structures, and habit learning, which depends on the caudate nucleus.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Brain Ischemia / physiopathology
  • Caudate Nucleus / physiopathology*
  • Denervation
  • Discrimination Learning / physiology*
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Agonists
  • Geniculate Bodies / physiopathology
  • Hippocampus / physiopathology*
  • Ibotenic Acid
  • Macaca fascicularis
  • Male
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Radio Waves


  • Excitatory Amino Acid Agonists
  • Ibotenic Acid