Place learning in the Morris water maze following transient (24 min) occlusion of the common carotid arteries (2VO), and following permanent occlusion of both vertebral arteries plus transient (20 min) clamping of the carotids (4VO) was investigated in rats 6-9 days after occlusion. Both 2VO and 4VO treatment increased the latency to find the hidden platform during escape trials; spatial bias, tested in a probe trial, was decreased. Histological analysis revealed neural necrosis in the CA1 sector of the hippocampus in 4VO rats but not in 2VO animals. The data suggest that an experimentally induced reduction in cerebral blood flow of 50% (after 2VO) or 95% (after 4VO) produces persistent functional changes even in absence of actual neural damage.
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