Latent inhibition is a measure of retarded conditioning to a previously presented nonreinforced stimulus that is impaired in schizophrenic patients and in rats treated with amphetamine. In terms of neural substrates, latent inhibition depends on the integrity of the nucleus accumbens and the inputs to this structure from the hippocampal formation and adjacent cortical areas. Since another major source of input to the nucleus accumbens is the medial prefrontal cortex, and there are numerous demonstrations that manipulations of this region can modify ventral striatal dopamine, we investigated the effects of N-methyl-D-aspartate lesion to the medial prefrontal cortex on latent inhibition, assessed in an off-baseline conditioned emotional response procedure in rats licking for water. In addition, the effects of the medial prefrontal cortex lesion were assessed on a battery of tasks potentially sensitive to medial prefrontal cortex damage, including spontaneous and amphetamine-induced activity, elevated plus maze exploration, food hoarding, prepulse inhibition, and active avoidance. The lesion decreased hoarding behaviour and increased spontaneous exploratory activity in the open field, while exerting only mild effects on amphetamine-induced activity. Prepulse inhibition, exploration of the elevated plus maze, and the acquisition of two-way active avoidance were unaffected by the lesion. Likewise, latent inhibition was left intact following the lesion, suggesting that neither the destruction of the intrinsic cells of the medial prefrontal cortex nor any potential lesion-induced changes in subcortical dopamine, affect latent inhibition.
- Latent inhibition
- Prefrontal cortex