Cerebellar contribution to spatial event processing: Morris water maze and T-maze

Eur J Neurosci. 1996 Sep;8(9):1882-96. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.1996.tb01332.x.


Recently, a cognitive function of cerebellar networks has been challenging the traditional view of the cerebellum as a motor control centre. Among the cognitive abilities reported to be affected by cerebellar deficits is the capacity to solve a spatial problem. We investigated the influence of a cerebellar lesion on spatial abilities by behavioural analysis of rats that had undergone surgical hemicerebellectomy (HCb; HCbed rats). Experiments were performed with a Morris water maze (MWM) and a water T-maze in both cue and place versions (visible or hidden platform respectively). Results indicate a severe impairment in coping with spatial information in all phases of MWM testing as well as in the T-maze paradigm. However, if the MWM cue phase was prolonged, HCbed rats displayed some ability to learn platform position, although at a level significantly different from controls. They succeeded in finding the platform, even in a pure place paradigm, such as finding a hidden platform with the starting points sequentially changed. Retention testing was also performed, demonstrating that HCb affects acquisition but not retention of spatial information. HCbed animals exhibit such disrupted exploration behaviour that they can display only peripheral circling, and they can acquire spatial relations only when proximal cues are available. Furthermore, in all phases of testing, platform finding for HCbed animals is essentially based on place strategies. Thus, a specific pattern of spatial behaviour, markedly different from that displayed following hippocampal or cortical lesions, characterizes cerebellar lesioned rats. These results are discussed taking into account the role in procedural learning recently assigned to cerebellar networks, demonstrating that the cerebellar circuits represent the keystone of the procedural components of spatial event processing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Cerebellum / physiology*
  • Exploratory Behavior / physiology
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Male
  • Maze Learning / physiology*
  • Mental Processes / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Space Perception / physiology*