Role of the anterior cingulate cortex in the control over behavior by Pavlovian conditioned stimuli in rats

Behav Neurosci. 2003 Jun;117(3):566-87. doi: 10.1037/0735-7044.117.3.566.


To investigate the contribution of the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) to stimulus-reward learning, rats with lesions of peri- and postgenual ACC were tested on a variety of Pavlovian conditioning tasks. Lesioned rats learned to approach a food alcove during a stimulus predicting food, and responded normally for conditioned reinforcement. They also exhibited normal conditioned freezing and Pavlovian-instrumental transfer, yet were impaired at autoshaping. To resolve this apparent discrepancy, a further task was developed in which approach to the food alcove was under the control of 2 stimuli, only 1 of which was followed by reward. Lesioned rats were impaired, approaching during both stimuli. It is suggested that the ACC is not critical for stimulus-reward learning per se, but is required to discriminate multiple stimuli on the basis of their association with reward.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amphetamine / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Cerebral Cortex / drug effects
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Conditioning, Classical / drug effects
  • Conditioning, Classical / physiology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Gyrus Cinguli / drug effects
  • Gyrus Cinguli / physiology*
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / drug effects
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Reinforcement, Psychology*
  • Reward


  • Amphetamine