Reversible inactivations of rat medial prefrontal cortex impair the ability to wait for a stimulus

Neuroscience. 2006;139(3):865-76. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2005.11.072. Epub 2006 Feb 24.


In simple reaction time tasks, lesions of rat dorsomedial prefrontal cortex impair the ability to wait for trigger stimuli and result in increased premature responding. This effect could be due to impairments in attending to trigger stimuli, estimating the timing of trigger stimuli, or inhibitory control of the motor response. Here, we examined these issues by reversibly inactivating dorsomedial prefrontal cortex during simple reaction time tasks with variable or fixed foreperiods. There were three consistent effects of dorsomedial prefrontal cortex inactivation: 1) increased premature responding, 2) increased variability in the timing of premature responses, and 3) speeded response latencies, especially on trials with short foreperiods in tasks with variable foreperiods. We observed these effects independent of differences in foreperiod duration, foreperiod variability, and stimulus probabilities. Therefore, dorsomedial prefrontal cortex appears not to be involved in attending to the trigger stimulus or in time estimation. Instead, we suggest that dorsomedial prefrontal cortex is critical for inhibiting responses before the maximum foreperiod duration, i.e. the "deadline" [Ollman RT, Billington MJ (1972) The deadline model for simple reaction times. Cognit Psychol 3:311-336], after which the rat should respond even if the trigger stimulus has not occurred.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Attention / drug effects
  • Attention / physiology
  • GABA Agonists / pharmacology
  • Learning / drug effects
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Muscimol / pharmacology
  • Prefrontal Cortex / drug effects
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Reaction Time / drug effects
  • Reaction Time / physiology*


  • GABA Agonists
  • Muscimol