The mediodorsal thalamus supports adaptive responding based on stimulus-outcome associations

Sarah Morceau, Angélique Faugère, Etienne Coutureau, Mathieu Wolff
. 2022-09-13; :
DOI: 10.1101/2022.09.12.507585

AbstractThe ability to engage into flexible behaviors is crucial in dynamic environments. We recently showed that in addition to the well described role of the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), its thalamic input from the submedius thalamic nucleus (Sub) also contributes to adaptive responding during Pavlovian degradation. In the present study, we examined the role of the mediodorsal thalamus (MD) which is the other main thalamic input to the OFC. To this end, we assessed the effect of both pre- and post-training MD lesions in rats performing a Pavlovian contingency degradation task. Pre-training lesions mildly impeded the establishment of stimulus-outcome associations during the initial training of Pavlovian conditioning without interfering with Pavlovian degradation training when the sensory feedback provided by the outcome rewards were available to animals. However, we found that both pre- and post-training MD lesions produced a selective impairment during a test conducted under extinction conditions, during which only current mental representation could guide behavior. Altogether, these data suggest a role for the MD in the successful encoding and representation of Pavlovian associations.

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