Impaired delayed spatial win-shift behaviour on the eight arm radial maze following excitotoxic lesions of the medial prefrontal cortex in the rat

Claire L Taylor, Mary P Latimer, Philip Winn

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48 Citations (Scopus)


The delayed spatial win-shift (DSWS) radial maze task requires that animals hold spatial information for reward location "on-line" both during task performance and across a delay. Temporary lidocaine inactivation of anterior cingulate (AC) and prelimbic (PL) regions of the rat medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) has revealed dissociable effects on this task, suggesting different roles within working memory for each of these areas. However, further research has shown that mPFC deficits in the rat may only be transient in nature, particularly on the radial maze. The present study was conducted to examine the effects of permanent excitotoxic lesions of the mPFC in the DSWS task across repeated trials to assess whether change in the degree of impairment would occur over time. Results showed that rats with lesions centred on the prelimbic cortex (but with damage extending into the anterior cingulate) were impaired on the post-delay test phase of the DSWS task. This deficit was characterised by increased errors (both across and within phase), earlier error occurrence, and increased latencies. Only the number of choices correct before error improved across repeated test days. These results are consistent with the involvement of the rat mPFC in spatial working memory and response inhibition, supporting previous findings using transient lesions. However, the discovery that rats with mPFC lesions learned to delay the intrusion of errors into their choice sequence extends previous work, and provides support for studies showing that mPFC lesioned rats can improve some aspects of task performance given the opportunity to learn over repeated trials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-114
Number of pages8
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
Issue number1-2
Early online date4 Jun 2003
Publication statusPublished - 17 Dec 2003


  • corticostriatal
  • executive function
  • prelimbic cortex
  • reward
  • working memory

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