Damage to the hippocampal formation does not disrupt representational flexibility as measured by a novelty transfer test

Behav Neurosci. 2004 Dec;118(6):1427-32. doi: 10.1037/0735-7044.118.6.1427.


Rats were trained on a set of visual discrimination problems (A+B-, C+D-, E+F-). The choice stimuli were then recombined to create novel combination tests (A+D-, C+F-, E+B-). Rats with damage to the hippocampus showed perfect transfer on these tests, always choosing A, C, and E, but were not able to learn the spatial location of the platform, indicating that damage to the hippocampus was functional. These results question the generality of H. Eichenbaum, P. Mathews, and N. J. Cohen's (1989) findings and the theoretical claim that choice behavior with novel combinations is based on inferential-like hippocampus-dependent processes (H. Eichenbaum, 1992). They are consistent with the view that simple associative processes guide choice behavior in animals with hippocampal damage that are confronted with novel combinations.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Discrimination Learning / physiology*
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Agonists / toxicity
  • Exploratory Behavior / physiology*
  • Female
  • Hippocampus / drug effects
  • Hippocampus / injuries
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • N-Methylaspartate / toxicity
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred F344
  • Space Perception / physiology*
  • Transfer, Psychology / physiology*


  • Excitatory Amino Acid Agonists
  • N-Methylaspartate