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Ventromedial Thalamic Lesions Alter Cognitive Performance in Rats

Billingsley, Angel (2012)
Honors Thesis (37 pages)
Committee Chair / Thesis Adviser: Neill, Darryl B
Committee Members: Crutcher, Michael D ; MacBeth, Cora E.
Research Fields: Biology, Neuroscience; Psychology, Cognitive; Psychology, Behavioral
Keywords: cortex; thalamus; cognition
Program: College Honors Program, Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology
Permanent url: http://pid.emory.edu/ark:/25593/crfp0

Abstract

The mind is the quintessential quality that defines us (humans), and the one that truly sets us apart from other animals. It is therefore interesting to consider that the true nature of the mind still escapes full comprehension. Despite the current general lack of knowledge surrounding the neural substrates of cognition, one must simply take a deeper, sucbcortical look inside the brain to begin to see the primitive beginnings of higher thought. One such paleomammalian brain structure attracts attention due to its extensive projections throughout the six layers of the neocortex: the thalamus. Here we show that regiospecific lesions of the Ventromedial Thalamic Nucleus in Sprague-Dawley rats produce deficits on the 5-Choice Serial Reaction Time Task, a widely accepted measure of cognitive function. The results of this experiment suggest a role alternative to the current motor-specific view of the VMT, providing evidence for a whole-brain cognitive motivational center.

Table of Contents

TABLE OF CONTENTS

LIST OF FIGURES ………………………………………………………………… 1

INTRODUCTION …………………………………………………………………… 2

METHODS ……………………………………………………………………………..9

RESULTS ………………………………………………………………………………15

DISCUSSION …………………………………………………………………………21

REFERENCES …………………………………………………………………………27

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