Patterns of brain acetylcholine release predict individual differences in preferred learning strategies in rats

Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2003 Mar;79(2):177-83. doi: 10.1016/s1074-7427(02)00014-x.


Acetylcholine release was measured simultaneously in the hippocampus and dorsal striatum of rats before and during training on a maze that could be learned using either a hippocampus-dependent spatial strategy or a dorsal striatum-dependent turning strategy. A probe trial administered after rats reached a criterion of 9/10 correct responses revealed that about half of the rats used a spatial strategy and half a turning strategy to solve the task. Acetylcholine release in the hippocampus, as well as the ratio of acetylcholine release in the hippocampus vs. the dorsal striatum, measured either before or during training, predicted these individual differences in strategy selection during learning. These findings suggest that differences in release of acetylcholine across brain areas may provide a neurobiological marker of individual differences in selection of the strategies rats use to solve a learning task.

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

  • Acetylcholine / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Corpus Striatum / metabolism*
  • Hippocampus / metabolism*
  • Individuality
  • Male
  • Maze Learning / physiology*
  • Microdialysis
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Spatial Behavior / physiology


  • Acetylcholine