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Lesions of the Head Direction Cell System Impair Direction Discrimination

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    Rights statement: "©American Psychological Association, [Year]. This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. Please do not copy or cite without author's permission. The final article is available, upon publication, at: 10.1037/bne0000341"

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Original languageEnglish
JournalBehavioral Neuroscience
Early online date3 Oct 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Oct 2019


Previous results suggest that directional information from the head direction cell circuit may inform hippocampal place cell firing when an animal is confronted with visually identical environments. To investigate whether such information might also be essential for spatial behavior, we tested adult, male Lister Hooded rats that had received either bilateral lateral mammillary nuclei (LMN) lesions or sham lesions on a four-way, conditional odor-location discrimination in compartments arranged at 60° to one another. We found that significantly fewer rats in the LMN lesion group were able to learn the task compared to the Sham group. We also found that the extent of the behavioral impairment was highly correlated with the degree of tissue loss in the LMN resulting from the lesion. Animals with LMN lesions were also impaired in a nonmatching-to-sample task in a T maze, and the extent of impairment likewise depended on the extent of the lesion. Performance in the odor-location and T-maze tasks was not affected by tissue loss in the medial mammillary nuclei. Together, these results indicate that the LMN, a key node in the head direction circuit, is critical for solving a spatial task that requires a directional discrimination. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).

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