Conditioning pp 417-431 | Cite as

Septo-Hippocampal Activity and Learning Rate

  • Stephen D. Berry
Part of the Advances in Behavioral Biology book series (ABBI, volume 26)


This paper presents the results of experiments investigating the relationships between hippocampal unit and slow wave activity and classical conditioning of the nictitating membrane (NM) response in rabbits. In Experiment 1, a strong, predictive correlation was found between frequency components of slow wave activity and the rate of acquisition of a conditioned response. Animals displaying higher proportions of 2–8 Hz hippocampal EEG learned more quickly, while those with more 8–22 Hz activity required more trials to reach asymptotic criterion. These groups also showed opposite acrosstraining changes in EEG: the faster group shifted towards higher frequencies, and the slower group towards lower frequencies. Significant differences in the responsiveness of hippocampal multiple unit activity to the conditioning stimuli were also observed between the two groups. It was concluded that the state of the hippocampal EEG prior to training predicts both cellular responsiveness and the rate of behavioral learning.

In experiment 2, small lesions were made in the medial septal nucleus to disrupt the frequency “pacemaker” of the hippocampal EEG. Relative to controls, the lesion group displayed higher EEG frequencies, reduced neuronal responsiveness to conditioning stimuli, and slower acquisition of the conditioned response. Taken together, these data support the idea of hippocampal involvement in classical NM conditioning and suggest that one determinant of learning rate is the state of the hippocampus as modulated by the septal pacemaker.


Conditioned Stimulus Classical Conditioning Nictitate Membrane Septal Lesion Slow Wave Activity 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen D. Berry
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyMiami UniversityOxfordUSA

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