These experiments examined the release of acetylcholine in the hippocampus and striatum when rats were trained, within single sessions, on place or response versions of food-rewarded mazes. Microdialysis samples of extra-cellular fluid were collected from the hippocampus and striatum at 5-min increments before, during, and after training. These samples were later analyzed for ACh content using HPLC methods. In Experiment 1, ACh release in both the hippocampus and striatum increased during training on both the place and response tasks. The magnitude of increase of training-related ACh release in the striatum was greater in rats trained on the response task than in rats trained on the place task, while the magnitude of ACh release in the hippocampus was comparable in the two tasks. Experiment 2 tested the possibility that the hippocampus was engaged and participated in learning the response task, as well as the place task, because of the availability of extra-maze cues. Rats were trained on a response version of a maze under either cue-rich or cue-poor conditions. The findings indicate that ACh release in the hippocampus increased similarly under both cue conditions, but declined during training on the cue-poor condition, when spatial processing by the hippocampus would not be suitable for solving the maze. In addition, high baseline levels of ACh release in the hippocampus predicted rapid learning in the cue-rich condition and slow learning in the cue-poor condition. These findings suggest that ACh release in the hippocampus augments response learning when extra-maze cues can be used to solve the maze but impairs response learning when extra-maze cues are not available for use in solving the maze.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Cognitive Neuroscience
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience