Conditioning-Specific Biophysical Alterations in Rabbit Hippocampus

  • John F. Disterhoft
  • Douglas A. Coulter
  • Daniel L. Alkon


A series of studies was initiated to explore the possibility that conditioning-specific biophysical alterations could be demonstrated in in vitro brain slices prepared from conditioned rabbits. Hippocampus was chosen as the region to begin our brain slice studies for several reasons. First, hippocampus in humans is generally considered to be importantly involved in acquisition of cognitive learning tasks (probably for transferring information from immediate to long-term memory) because of profound learning deficits observed in patients with bilateral hippocampectomy (Scoville and Milner, 1957; Squire, 1982). Second, systematic unit recording studies in freely moving rats showed a profound involvement of hippocampus and its subregions in a tone-signaled food acquisition conditioned response (Disterhoft and Segal, 1978; Olds et al., 1972; Segal, 1973). Berger, Thompson, and their collaborators showed in a series of studies during nictitating membrane (NM) conditioning in rabbits that hippocampal neurons showed learned alterations early in training (before CR acquisition), that hippocampal CA 1 and CA3 neuron PST histograms to CS onset exhibit “models” of the NM conditioned response, and that there is a high degree of correlation between hippocampal unit firing and the acquisition of and characteristics of the NM conditioned response (Berger et al., 1980; Berger and Thompson, 1978; Thompson et al., 1980). Recently, they have shown in a single-neuron study that it is the CA 1 and CA3 neurons that model the NM conditioned response (Berger et al., 1983). Third, the hippocampal slice has been one of the most widely studied in vitro brain slice preparations because of its regular lamellar organization and its viability in vitro (Langmoen and Andersen, 1981; Schwartzkroin, 1981). Thus, there exists a large body of in vitro biophysical data in addition to the in vivo recording data. In fact, much of the in vitro data are from the CA1 and CA3 pyramidal cells, the population that shows the neural modeling of the NM conditioned response.


Pyramidal Cell Conditioned Response Classical Conditioning Nictitate Membrane Response Conditioned Group 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • John F. Disterhoft
    • 1
    • 2
  • Douglas A. Coulter
    • 2
  • Daniel L. Alkon
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Cell Biology and AnatomyNorthwestern University Medical SchoolChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Laboratory of Biophysics, National Institute of Neurological and Communicative Disorders and StrokeNational Institutes of Health at the Marine Biological LaboratoryWoods HoleUSA
  3. 3.Section on Neural Systems, Laboratory of Biophysics, IRP, National Institute of Neurological and Communicative Disorders and StrokeNational Institutes of Health at the Marine Biological LaboratoryWoods HoleUSA

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