Hippocampal lesioned rats are able to learn a spatial position using non-spatial strategies

Bruno Pouzet, Wei Ning Zhang, Joram Feldon, J. Nicholas P. Rawlins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the last two decades, many experiments have demonstrated that the hippocampus plays a role in the learning and processing of spatial and contextual information. Despite these demonstrations, some recent publications have indicated that the hippocampus is not the only structure involved in spatial learning and that even after hippocampal lesions, rats can perform spatial tasks. However, it is not well established whether animals with hippocampal dysfunction still have some spatial learning capacities or develop non-spatial solutions; these may require lengthier acquisition training. We now report the effects of conventional, dorsal hippocampal ablation on rats' performance on the water maze. We tested rats using a short (4 days) versus a long (16 days) acquisition period. We demonstrated that animals with dorsal hippocampal lesions have some residual capacity for learning the localization of a hidden escape platform in a pool during both a reference memory task and a working memory task. The animals with dorsal hippocampal lesions learned to escape at a fixed location, but only with extended training. It is suggested that these animals used non-spatial strategies to compensate for a spatial memory impairment. The results are discussed with respect to the experimental procedure and the strategy applied by the lesioned rats.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-291
Number of pages13
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 18 Jul 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Hippocampus
  • Lesion
  • Morris water maze
  • Spatial learning


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