Functional Dissociations Between Subregions of the Medial Prefrontal Cortex on the Rodent Touchscreen Continuous Performance Test (rCPT) of Attention
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© 2019 American Psychological Association. Converging evidence in humans, monkeys, and rodents suggests a functional dissociation of cognitive function along the dorso-ventral axis of the prefrontal cortex (PFC). Previous studies of attention suggest that the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) plays a role in target detection, whereas the prelimbic (PL) cortex is important for tests requiring the combined detection and discrimination of signals. We investigated the effect of discrete, quinolinic acid-induced lesions of subregions of the rat medial PFC (mPFC)-ACC, PL cortex, and infralimbic (IL) cortex-on attentional performance on the recently developed rodent touchscreen continuous performance test (rCPT). Rats were tested under a range of behavioral conditions involving stimulus duration (SD), flanker distraction, temporal predictability, and event rate. Rats with lesions of the PL cortex demonstrated the most persistent attentional impairment under conditions of reduced and variable SD and high event rate (lower discrimination sensitivity [d=] and hit rate), and flanker distraction (lower hit rate). Rats with lesions of the ACC exhibited a profound but transient attentional impairment (lower d= and hit rate) in the early stages of behavioral testing, which ameliorated with repeated testing. Rats with lesions of the IL cortex showed no impairments on response control measures. The PL cortex plays a greater role than the ACC in the detection and discrimination of a complex visual stimulus among multiple nontarget stimuli in the rCPT. The findings support evidence for a functional dissociation of attentional performance along the dorso-ventral axis of the mPFC.