Behavioural responses in uncertain conditions are influenced by the orbital prefrontal cortex

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Trow, Jan E.
University of Lethbridge. Faculty of Arts and Science
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Lethbridge, Alta : University of Lethbridge, Dept. of Neuroscience
The orbital prefrontal cortex (OPFC) is implicated in generating outcome expectancies and in preventing the over-generalization of fear. Here, I investigate if the OPFC supports associative processes by determining the relevance of cues during behavioural tasks with relatively high levels of uncertainty. Two projects were conducted: one using appetitive and aversive context conditioning and another using a cue/place variant of the Morris water task. I observed that OPFC inactivation resulted in generalized responses on the appetitive and aversive context conditioning tasks. Further, I observed that after OPFC inactivation, rats favour spatial over cue responses in a competition test of the water task. These results support a role for the OPFC in influencing response strategies and suggest this region is critical for constraining responses during uncertain conditions. Through interactions with learning and memory systems, these results suggest the OPFC supports associative processes during uncertainty by mediating between discrimination and generalization.
associative processes , behavioural responses , cue relevance , fear responses , OPFC , uncertainty