Activity of the immediate early gene c-fos was compared across hemispheres in rats with unilateral anterior thalamic lesions. Fos protein was quantified after rats performed a spatial working memory test in the radial-arm maze, a task that is sensitive to bilateral lesions of the anterior thalamic nuclei. Unilateral anterior thalamic lesions produced evidence of a widespread hippocampal hypoactivity, as there were significant reductions in Fos counts in a range of regions within the ipsilateral hippocampal formation (rostral CA1, rostral dentate gyrus, 'dorsal' hippocampus, presubiculum and postsubiculum). A decrease in Fos levels was also found in the rostral and caudal retrosplenial cortex but not in the parahippocampal cortices or anterior cingulate cortices. The Fos changes seem most closely linked to sites that are also required for successful task performance, supporting the notion that the anterior thalamus, retrosplenial cortex and hippocampus form key components of an interdependent neuronal network involved in spatial mnemonic processing.
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