Anterior and lateral thalamic lesions in object-odour paired associate learning
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Science
Diencephalic amnesia is thought to be the result of damage to a single thalamic structure that is responsible for the memory impairment. However, an alternative view is that different thalamic structures contribute to the memory impairment in subtly different ways. Paired-associate learning is one important measure of learning and memory that is highly sensitive to disruption in people with amnesia or dementia. The current study will investigate the influence of lesions to two thalamic subregions, the anterior thalamic nuclei (AT) and the lateral thalamic nuclei (LT) in an object-odour paired associate learning task. Each of these subregions has been suggested by the literature as critical for amnesia after thalamus injury. The current study does not involve a place/ space component. Both AT and LT lesions caused impairments in the object-odour paired associate task, but not in the simple discrimination tasks. The results of this study provide new evidence to suggest that the anterior thalamic region may be responsible for more than spatial memory processing. This result is inconsistent with those of Aggleton & Brown (1999) that consider the AT to be part of an 'extended hippocampal system'. The deficits observed from LT lesions in this study provide new insight into the lateral thalamic region's role in pattern processing.