This study examined the effects of bilateral excitotoxic lesions of the nucleus accumbens core (NAc-co), dorsomedial striatum (DMS) or dorsolateral striatum (DLS) of rats on the learning and extinction of Pavlovian and instrumental components of conditioned avoidance responses (CARs). None of the lesions caused sensorimotor deficits that could affect locomotion. Lesions of the NAc-co, but not DMS or DLS, decreased unconditioned and conditioned freezing. The NAc-co and DLS lesioned rats learned the 2-way active avoidance task more slowly. These results suggest: (i) CARs depend on both Pavlovian and instrumental learning; (ii) learning the Pavlovian component of CARs depends on the NAc-co; learning the instrumental component of CARs depends on the DLS, NAc and DMS; (iii) although the NAc-co is also needed for learning the instrumental component, it is not clear whether it plays a role in learning the instrumental component per se or if it simply allows learning of the Pavlovian component which is a pre-condition for learning the instrumental component; (iv) we did not find evidence that the DMS and DLS play the same roles in habit and goal-directed aspects of the instrumental component of CARs as observed in appetitive motivated instrumental responding.
- Pavlovian fear conditioning
- conditioned avoidance responses
- ventral striatum
- procedural memory