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Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research

On-line version ISSN 1414-431X

Abstract

TRONCOSO, A.C.; CIRILO-JUNIOR, G.; SANDNER, G.  and  BRANDAO, M.L.. Signaled two-way avoidance learning using electrical stimulation of the inferior colliculus as negative reinforcement: effects of visual and auditory cues as warning stimuli. Braz J Med Biol Res [online]. 1998, vol.31, n.3, pp. 391-398. ISSN 1414-431X.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0100-879X1998000300011.

The inferior colliculus is a primary relay for the processing of auditory information in the brainstem. The inferior colliculus is also part of the so-called brain aversion system as animals learn to switch off the electrical stimulation of this structure. The purpose of the present study was to determine whether associative learning occurs between aversion induced by electrical stimulation of the inferior colliculus and visual and auditory warning stimuli. Rats implanted with electrodes into the central nucleus of the inferior colliculus were placed inside an open-field and thresholds for the escape response to electrical stimulation of the inferior colliculus were determined. The rats were then placed inside a shuttle-box and submitted to a two-way avoidance paradigm. Electrical stimulation of the inferior colliculus at the escape threshold (98.12 ± 6.15 (A, peak-to-peak) was used as negative reinforcement and light or tone as the warning stimulus. Each session consisted of 50 trials and was divided into two segments of 25 trials in order to determine the learning rate of the animals during the sessions. The rats learned to avoid the inferior colliculus stimulation when light was used as the warning stimulus (13.25 ± 0.60 s and 8.63 ± 0.93 s for latencies and 12.5 ± 2.04 and 19.62 ± 1.65 for frequencies in the first and second halves of the sessions, respectively, P<0.01 in both cases). No significant changes in latencies (14.75 ± 1.63 and 12.75 ± 1.44 s) or frequencies of responses (8.75 ± 1.20 and 11.25 ± 1.13) were seen when tone was used as the warning stimulus (P>0.05 in both cases). Taken together, the present results suggest that rats learn to avoid the inferior colliculus stimulation when light is used as the warning stimulus. However, this learning process does not occur when the neutral stimulus used is an acoustic one. Electrical stimulation of the inferior colliculus may disturb the signal transmission of the stimulus to be conditioned from the inferior colliculus to higher brain structures such as amygdala

Keywords : inferior colliculus; active avoidance; selective attention.

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