Examination of the role of the pedunculopontine tegmental nucleus in the control of behavioural processes
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The role of the pedunculopontine tegmental nucleus (PPTg) in the control of behavioural processes was investigated in this thesis. This was achieved through examination of: (1) Conditioned place preference formation: PPTg lesioned rats were not impaired in forming an appropriate place preference, regardless of their deprivation state. (2) Reward-related responding: both food deprived and non-deprived lesioned rats displayed disinhibited intake across a gradient of sucrose rewards, the degree of disinhibition increasing as the reward became stronger. This disinhibited responding was disassociated from simple approach behaviour as shown by similar runway completion times across control and lesioned rats. (3) Radial arm maze performance: PPTg lesioned rats were impaired in their ability to retrospectively plan and forage in a random foraging task. This impairment was seen in both acquisition and retention tasks. PPTg lesioned rats were also impaired in the acquisition of a spatial working memory task in which they had to prospectively plan and execute responses. (4) These behavioural tasks are related to striatal output. To complement them anatomical experiments examining altered striatal outflow on neurotransmitter expression in the PPTg were conducted. Neither dopamine receptor blockade nor 6- hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) lesions of striatal dopamine produced changes in nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH)-diaphorase expression in the PPTg. This work did, however, lay the foundation for future experimentation to address this question. The combination of these findings extends current literature to outline a role for the PPTg in the control of complex behaviours that have been previously associated with sites higher up the neuraxis. This thesis demonstrates that removal of the PPTg results in behaviours that are inappropriate and disinhibited. In conclusion the PPTg is important for both accurate response selection and execution of goal directed behaviours, elements crucial for effective behavioural responding.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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