Rats with lesions of the hippocampus or sham lesions were required in four experiments to escape from a square swimming pool by finding a submerged platform. Experiments 1 and 2 commenced with passive training in which rats were repeatedly placed on the platform in one corner-the correct corner-of a pool with distinctive walls. A test trial then revealed a strong preference for the correct corner in the sham but not the hippocampal group. Subsequent active training of being required to swim to the platform resulted in both groups acquiring a preference for the correct corner in the two experiments. In Experiments 3 and 4, rats were required to solve a discrimination between different panels pasted to the walls of the pool, by swimming to the middle of a correct panel. Hippocampal lesions prevented a discrimination being formed between panels of different lengths (Experiment 3), but not between panels showing lines of different orientations (Experiment 4); rats with sham lesions mastered both problems. It is suggested that an intact hippocampus is necessary for the formation of stimulus-goal associations that permit successful passive spatial leaning. It is further suggested that an intact hippocampus is not necessary for the formation of stimulus-response associations, except when they involve information about length or distance.
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