Whisker deflection is an effective conditioned stimulus (CS) for trace eyeblink conditioning that has been shown to induce a learning-specific expansion of whisker-related cortical barrels, suggesting that memory storage for an aspect of the trace association resides in barrel cortex. To examine the role of the barrel cortex in acquisition and retrieval of trace eyeblink associations, the barrel cortex was lesioned either prior to (acquisition group) or following (retention group) trace conditioning. The acquisition lesion group was unable to acquire the trace conditioned response, suggesting that the whisker barrel cortex is vital for learning trace eyeblink conditioning with whisker deflection as the CS. The retention lesion group exhibited a significant reduction in expression of the previously acquired conditioned response, suggesting that an aspect of the trace association may reside in barrel cortex. These results demonstrate that the barrel cortex is important for both acquisition and retention of whisker trace eyeblink conditioning. Furthermore, these results, along with prior anatomical whisker barrel analyses suggest that the barrel cortex is a site for long-term storage of whisker trace eyeblink associations.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Cognitive Neuroscience
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience