Hippocampal lesions disrupt a cognitive map but not vector encoding

Pearce, John M. and Roberts, Amanda. D. L. and Good, Mark (1998) Hippocampal lesions disrupt a cognitive map but not vector encoding. Nature, 396 (6706). pp. 75-77. ISSN 0028-0836

Full content URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/23941

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Abstract

Animals can find a hidden goal in several ways. They might use a cognitive map that encodes information about the geometric relationship between the goal and two or more landmarks. Alternatively, they might use a heading vector that specifies the direction and distance of the goal from a single landmark. Rats with damage to the hippocampus have difficulty in finding a hidden goal. Here we determine which of the above strategies is affected by such damage. Rats were required to swim in a water maze to a submerged platform, which was always at the same distance and direction from a landmark. The platform and landmark remained in the same place for the four trials of each session, but they were moved to a new position at the start of a session. Rats with damage to the hippocampus found the platform more efficiently than did normal rats in the first trial of a session but, in contrast to normal rats, their performance did not improve during a session. Our results indicate that hippocampally damaged rats are able to navigate by means of heading vectors but not cognitive maps.

Keywords:Cognitive Map, Heading Vectors, Hippocampus, Watermaze, Navigation
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C120 Behavioural Biology
C Biological Sciences > C860 Neuropsychology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
ID Code:15896
Deposited On:31 Oct 2014 12:26

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