Impaired spatial working memory after anterior thalamic lesions: recovery with cerebrolysin and enrichment
Lesions to the anterior thalamic nuclei (ATN) in rats produce robust spatial memory deficits that reflect their influence as part of an extended hippocampal system. Recovery of spatial working memory after ATN lesions was examined using a 30-day administration of the neurotrophin cerebrolysin and/or an enriched housing environment. As expected, ATN lesions in standard-housed rats given saline produced severely impaired reinforced spatial alternation when compared to standard-housed rats with sham lesions. Both cerebrolysin and enrichment substantially improved this working memory deficit, including accuracy on trials that required attention to distal cues for successful performance. The combination of cerebrolysin and enrichment was more effective than either treatment alone when the delay between successive runs in a trial was increased to 40 s. Compared to the intact rats, ATN lesions in standard-housed groups produced substantial reduction in c-Fos expression in the retrosplenial cortex, which remained low after cerebrolysin and enrichment treatments. Evidence that multiple treatment strategies restore some memory functions in the current lesion model reinforces the prospect for treatments in human diencephalic amnesia.