Bett D, Allison E, Murdoch LH, Kaefer K, Wood ER & Dudchenko P (2012) The neural substrates of deliberative decision making: contrasting effects of hippocampus lesions on performance and vicarious trial-and-error behavior in a spatial memory task and a visual discrimination task. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 6, Art. No.: 70. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnbeh.2012.00070
Vicarious trial-and-errors (VTEs) are back-and-forth movements of the head exhibited by rodents and other animals when faced with a decision. These behaviors have recently been associated with prospective sweeps of hippocampal place cell firing, and thus may reflect a rodent model of deliberative decision-making. The aim of the current study was to test whether the hippocampus is essential for VTEs in a spatial memory task and in a simple visual discrimination (VD) task. We found that lesions of the hippocampus with ibotenic acid produced a significant impairment in the accuracy of choices in a serial spatial reversal (SR) task. In terms of VTEs, whereas sham-lesioned animals engaged in more VTE behavior prior to identifying the location of the reward as opposed to repeated trials after it had been located, the lesioned animals failed to show this difference. In contrast, damage to the hippocampus had no effect on acquisition of a VD or on the VTEs seen in this task. For both lesion and sham-lesion animals, adding an additional choice to the VD increased the number of VTEs and decreased the accuracy of choices. Together, these results suggest that the hippocampus may be specifically involved in VTE behavior during spatial decision making.
hippocampus; vicarious trial-and-error; VTE
Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience: Volume 6