Hippocampal theta-band activity and trace eyeblink conditioning in rabbits

Behav Neurosci. 2009 Jun;123(3):631-40. doi: 10.1037/a0015334.


The authors examined the relationship between hippocampal theta activity and trace eyeblink conditioning. Hippocampal electrophysiological local field potentials were recorded before, during, and after conditioning or explicitly unpaired training sessions in adult male New Zealand White rabbits. As expected, a high relative power of theta activity (theta ratio) in the hippocampus predicted faster acquisition of the conditioned response during trace conditioning but, contrary to previous results obtained using the delay paradigm, only in the initial stage of learning. The presentation of the conditioned stimulus overall elicited an increase in the hippocampal theta ratio. The theta ratio decreased in the unpaired group as a function of training, remained high throughout conditioning in the fast learners, and rapidly increased in the slow learners initially showing a low theta ratio. Our results indicate a reciprocal connection between the hippocampal oscillatory activity and associative learning. The hippocampal theta ratio seems to reflect changes and differences in the subjects' alertness and responsiveness to external stimuli, which affect the rate of learning and are, in turn, affected by both conditioning and unpaired training.

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Association Learning / physiology*
  • Attention / physiology
  • Blinking
  • Conditioning, Eyelid / physiology*
  • Electrodes, Implanted
  • Electromyography
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Male
  • Microelectrodes
  • Motivation
  • Rabbits
  • Random Allocation
  • Theta Rhythm*