Cue valence representation studied by Fos immunocytochemistry after acquisition of a discrimination learning task
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The piriform cortex (PCx) and related structures such as hippocampus and frontal cortex could play an important role in olfactory memory. We investigated their involvement in learning the biological value of an odor cue, i.e. predicting reward or non-reward in a two-odor discrimination task. Rats were sacrificed after stimulation by either rewarded or non-rewarded odor and Fos immunocytochemistry was performed. The different experimental groups of rats did not show strongly differentiated Fos expression pattern in either the PCx or the hippocampus. A few differences were noted in frontal areas. In the ventro-lateral orbital cortex, rats, ramdomly rewarded during the conditionning had a higher Fos level in comparison with other groups. In infralimbic cortex, rats, which learned the reward value of the olfactory cue and were water-reinforced the day of sacrifice, showed a higher Fos expression. Data are discussed in view of the olfactory learning paradigm and of the accuracy of the control groups used in the present experimental design. The behavioural conditions leading to Fos expression are further discussed since Fos is a marker of learning-induced plasticity as well as a general activity marker which can be activated by a wide range of stimuli not directly linked to memory.
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