Ventral hippocampal lesions affect anxiety but not spatial learning.
Bannerman DM., Grubb M., Deacon RMJ., Yee BK., Feldon J., Rawlins JNP.
Rats with cytotoxic ventral hippocampal lesions which removed approximately 50% of the hippocampus (including dentate gyrus) starting from the temporal pole, displayed a reduction in freezing behaviour following the delivery of an unsignalled footshock in an operant chamber. This was more plausibly a result of reduced susceptibility to fear than a result of a lesion-induced increase in general motor activity. There was no consistent difference between sham and lesioned animals in spontaneous locomotor activity, or locomotion following acute or chronic treatment with amphetamine. In contrast, ventral hippocampal lesioned animals were quicker to pass from the black to the white box during a modified version of the light/dark exploration test, and were quicker to begin eating during tests of hyponeophagia. Furthermore, rats with ventral hippocampal lesions defecated less than their sham counterparts both during open field testing and in extinction sessions following contextual conditioning. In contrast to these clear lesion effects, there were no signs of any spatial learning impairment either in the watermaze or on the elevated T-maze. Taken together these results suggest that the ventral hippocampus may play a role in a brain system (or systems) associated with fear and/or anxiety, and provide further evidence for a distinct specialisation of function along the septotemporal axis of the hippocampus.