Two strategies used to solve a navigation task: A different use of the hippocampus by males and females? A preliminary study in rats

Ferran Lugo 1 , Marta N. Torres 1 , and V.D. Chamizo 1 , 2
  • 1 Departament de Cognició, Desenvolupament i Psicologia de la Educació, Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
  • 2 The Institute of Neurosciences, Universitat of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain

Abstract

There is abundant research (both in rodents and in humans) showing that males and females often use different types of information in spatial navigation. Males prefer geometry as a source of information, whereas females tend to focus on landmarks (which are often near to a goal objects). However, when considering the role of the hippocampus, the research focuses primarily on males only. In the present study, based on Rodríguez, Torres, Mackintosh, and Chamizo’s (2010, Experiment 2) navigation protocol, we conducted two experiments, one with males and another with females, in order to tentatively evaluate the role of the dorsal hippocampus in the acquisition of two tasks: one based on landmark learning and the alternate one on local pool-geometry learning. Both when landmark learning and when geometry learning, Sham male rats learned significantly faster than Lesion male animals. This was not the case with female rats in geometry learning. These results suggest that the dorsal hippocampus could play an important role in males only.

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