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Conditioned Responses in the Reticular Formation


Kornblith, Carol Lee (1972) Conditioned Responses in the Reticular Formation. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/J6N6-EV96.


Unit activity was recorded from the midbrain and pons of 40 freely moving rats in an appetitive classical conditioning situation. Responses to auditory stimuli were observed from 100 units before and during a conditioning procedure in which presentation of food occurred 1 sec after the onset of the auditory stimulus. Conditioned unit responses (i.e., spike rate accelerations or decelerations) were considered to be positive when 1) no similar responses appeared prior to conditioning, and 2) latencies were equal to or less than those of sensory responses derived from the inferior colliculus. Such short latency conditioned unit responses were recorded from 11 probes located in the mid-lateral pert of the ventral region of the brain stem. This region was differentiated from paramedian, far lateral and dorsal parts of the brain stem reticular formation. Conditioned unit responses of considerably longer latencies were recorded from 76 probe located in these other regions. Among the longer latency responses interesting differences appeared in experiments conducted after the first conditioning series was completed. With additional training, units in the "reticular activating system" of midbrain and pons tended to yield stabilized responses in the early portion of the CS-US interval closely related in time to the orientation responses evoked by the CS. In contrast, the responses of units in the limbic midbrain tended to stabilize in the later part of the CS-US interval closely related in time to preparatory responses tied to the US. During extinction when the auditory stimulus was no longer followed by presentation of food, many of the responses were reduced to their pre-conditioning levels. However, there was a tendency for units which had displayed short latency responses on the first conditioning day to be more resistant to extinction than units which had displayed longer latency conditioned responses. The data were interpreted as indicating a local correlate of learning in the reticular formation of midbrain end pons and a separation of the midbrain system into at least two areas: 1) the classical "reticular activating system" related to orienting reactions, and 2) the limbic midbrain areas related to drives and rewards. Because the ventral and mid-lateral area with very short latency conditioned responses was not clearly tied to either of these; it was considered as possibly representing a third division.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Biology
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Major Option:Biology
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Olds, James
Thesis Committee:
  • Owen, Ray David
  • Strumwasser, Felix
  • Van Harreveld, Anthonie
  • Wiersma, Cornelis A. G.
Defense Date:17 December 1971
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Public Health ServiceUNSPECIFIED
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:05022016-093643296
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:9694
Deposited On:02 May 2016 17:46
Last Modified:18 Dec 2020 20:28

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