Anterior thalamic nuclei, but not retrosplenial cortex, lesions abolish latent inhibition in rats.

The present study examined the effects of excitotoxic lesions in 2 closely related structures, the anterior thalamic nuclei and the retrosplenial cortex, on latent inhibition. Latent inhibition occurs when nonreinforced preexposure to a stimulus retards the subsequent acquisition of conditioned responding to that stimulus. Latent inhibition was assessed in a within-subject procedure with auditory stimuli and food reinforcement. As expected, sham-operated animals were slower to acquire conditioned responding to a stimulus that had previously been experienced without consequence, relative to a non-preexposed stimulus. This latent inhibition effect was absent in rats with excitotoxic lesions in the anterior thalamic nuclei, as these animals conditioned to both stimuli at equivalent rates. The retrosplenial lesions appeared to spare latent inhibition, as these animals displayed a robust stimulus preexposure effect. The demonstration here that anterior thalamic nuclei lesions abolish latent inhibition is consistent with emerging evidence of the importance of these thalamic nuclei for attentional control. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)