Effortful information processing in a spontaneous spatial situation by rats with medial prefrontal lesions


  • Granon Sylvie
  • Save Etienne
  • Buhot Marie-Christine
  • Poucet Bruno

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Previous research has suggested that the rat prefrontal cortex might play a role in spatial information processing and in divided attention. More recent work showed that the effect of prefrontal lesions is more important when the task involves response selection in complex situations. The first aim of the present study was to test the effect of lesions of the prelimbic area of the rat prefrontal cortex in spatial exploration, a situation involving the processing of spatial and non-spatial information, but requiring no response selection. The second aim was to manipulate the degree of cognitive effort required by the task. The latter effect was tested by manipulating the number of items to explore. Rats explored either a simple (3 objects) or a complex (6 objects) situation. We reasoned that acquiring spatial information so as to react adequately to spatial or non spatial changes involved more effortful processing in the complex situation than in the simpler one. The results suggest that the medial prefrontal cortex is not crucially involved in effortful processing when the task requires no response selection.

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