Effects of parafascicular excitotoxic lesions on two-way active avoidance and odor-discrimination

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To investigate whether the parafascicular (PF) nucleus of the thalamus is involved in different learning and memory tasks, two experiments were carried out in adult male Wistar rats that were submitted to pre-training bilateral N-methyl-d-aspartate PF infusions (0.15 M, pH 7.4; 1.2 μl/side, 0.2 μl/min). In Experiment 1, we evaluated the effects of PF lesions in two identical 30-trial training sessions, separated by a 24-h interval, of a two-way active avoidance conditioning. PF-lesioned rats exhibited impaired performance in both sessions, measured by number of avoidance responses. In Experiment 2, the effects of PF lesions were assessed in a training session (5 trials) and a 24-h retention test (2 retention trials and 2 relearning trials) of an odor-discrimination task. PF lesions did not significantly disrupt the acquisition or the first retention trial, which was not rewarded. However, lesioned animals' performance was clearly affected in subsequent trials, following the introduction of the single non-rewarded trial. Current data are discussed considering evidence that lesions of the PF nucleus affect learning and memory functions mediated by anatomically related areas of the frontal cortex and striatum. © 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)198-207
JournalNeurobiology of Learning and Memory
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2007


  • Avoidance conditioning
  • Basal ganglia
  • Behavioral flexibility
  • Intralaminar thalamic nuclei
  • NMDA lesions
  • Olfactory task
  • Prefrontal cortex


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