The effects of energy-rich diets on discrimination reversal learning and on BDNF in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex of the rat

Behav Brain Res. 2007 Aug 22;182(1):57-66. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2007.05.004. Epub 2007 May 22.


Male rats received normal chow or high-fat diets rich in dextrose (HFD) or sucrose (HFS). Half of the rats received 90-day unrestricted access to their diet prior to training, whereas the other half were food restricted throughout the study. We evaluated the effects of these dietary manipulations on discrimination and reversal performance and on post-training levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the prefrontal cortex and the ventral and dorsal hippocampus. Neither diet nor restriction condition affected discrimination acquisition. However, prior unrestricted access to the HFD diet impaired discrimination reversal learning and reduced BDNF in the prefrontal cortex and ventral hippocampus. Also, rats given the HFD diet responded more than controls to the previously rewarded cue at the outset of discrimination reversal. The results suggest that consumption of the HFD diet may have had enduring effects on learning processes, some of which may contribute to the control of intake regulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Avoidance Learning / physiology*
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Body Weight
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / metabolism*
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage*
  • Discrimination, Psychological / physiology*
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Male
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Dietary Fats