Electrical stimulation of the rostral medial prefrontal cortex in rabbits inhibits the expression of conditioned eyelid responses but not their acquisition

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Jul 3;104(27):11459-64. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0704548104. Epub 2007 Jun 25.


We have studied the role of rostral medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) on reflexively evoked blinks and on classically conditioned eyelid responses in alert-behaving rabbits. The rostral mPFC was identified by its afferent projections from the medial half of the thalamic mediodorsal nuclear complex. Classical conditioning consisted of a delay paradigm using a 370-ms tone as the conditioned stimulus (CS) and a 100-ms air puff directed at the left cornea as the unconditioned stimulus (US). The CS coterminated with the US. Electrical train stimulation of the contralateral rostral mPFC produced a significant inhibition of air-puff-evoked blinks. The same train stimulation of the rostral mPFC presented during the CS-US interval for 10 successive conditioning sessions significantly reduced the generation of conditioned responses (CRs) as compared with values reached by control animals. Interestingly, the percentage of CRs almost reached control values when train stimulation of the rostral mPFC was removed from the fifth conditioning session on. The electrical stimulation of the rostral mPFC in well conditioned animals produced a significant decrease in the percentage of CRs. Moreover, the stimulation of the rostral mPFC was also able to modify the kinematics (latency, amplitude, and velocity) of evoked CRs. These results suggest that the rostral mPFC is a potent inhibitor of reflexively evoked and classically conditioned eyeblinks but that activation prevents only the expression of CRs, not their latent acquisition. Functional and behavioral implications of this inhibitory role of the rostral mPFC are discussed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Association Learning / physiology*
  • Conditioning, Classical / physiology*
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology
  • Eyelids / physiology*
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Rabbits
  • Reflex / physiology