Development of vicarious trial-and-error behavior in odor discrimination learning in the rat: relation to hippocampal function?

Behav Brain Res. 1997 Jun;86(1):67-70. doi: 10.1016/s0166-4328(96)02247-4.


Previous work from our laboratory has suggested that hippocampal electrolytic lesions result in a deficit in simultaneous, black-white discrimination learning and reduce the frequency of vicarious trial-and-error (VTE) at a choice-point. VTE is a term Tolman used to describe the rat's conflict-like behavior, moving its head from one stimulus to the other at a choice point, and has been proposed as a major nonspatial feature of hippocampal function in both visual and olfactory discrimination learning. Simultaneous odor discrimination and VTE behavior were examined at three different ages. The results were that 16-day-old pups made fewer VTEs and learned much more slowly than 30- and 60-day-olds, a finding in accord with levels of hippocampal maturity in the rat.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Appetitive Behavior / physiology
  • Choice Behavior / physiology*
  • Conflict, Psychological*
  • Discrimination Learning / physiology*
  • Female
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Male
  • Maze Learning / physiology
  • Mental Recall / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Smell / physiology*
  • Social Environment*