Motor skill learning in rats has been linked to cerebellar function as well as to cortical and striatal influences. The present study evaluated the contribution of the hippocampus to motor learning. Adult male rats received electrolytic lesions designed to selectively destroy the hippocampus; a sham-lesioned group of animals served as a control. The animals with hippocampal lesions acquired a patterned motor learning task as well as sham controls. In contrast, rats with hippocampal lesions were impaired in spatial, but not cued, learning in the Morris water maze. In addition, lesioned rats showed profound impairment in the novel object recognition memory task, when a 1-h delay was used between training and testing. Taken together, these results suggest that the hippocampus is not necessary during acquisition of the motor learning task.
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