Lesions of retrosplenial cortex (RSP) disrupt spatial and contextual learning, suggesting that RSP may have a fundamental role in processing overlapping, or simultaneously presented stimuli. If so, then RSP lesions might also be expected to disrupt learning that requires the concurrent processing of phasic conditioned stimuli. In Experiment 1, rats were trained in a compound feature negative discrimination task in which a tone was presented and immediately followed by food on some trials, while on other trials a visual stimulus was simultaneously presented along with the tone and not reinforced. Normal rats learned to discriminate between the trials but RSP-lesioned rats exhibited low levels of conditioning on both types of trials. Experiment 2 demonstrated that this effect was not simply due to a general inability to form associations, since RSP-lesioned rats exhibited normal responding when the visual stimulus was presented alone and paired with food. These findings support the view that RSP has an important role in learning that involves the processing of simultaneously presented stimuli and have implications for understanding the functional relationship between the hippocampus and RSP.
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