A number of studies investigating trace eyeblink conditioning have found impaired, but not eliminated, acquisition of conditioned responses (CRs) in both animals and humans with hippocampal removal or damage. The underlying mechanism of this residual learning is unclear. The present study investigated whether the impaired level of learning is the product of residual hippocampal function or whether it is mediated by another memory system that has been shown to function normally in delay eyeblink conditioning. Performance of bilateral medial temporal lobe amnesic patients who had a prior history of participating in eyeblink conditioning studies was compared to a control group with a similar training history and to an untrained control group in a series of single cue trace conditioning tasks with 500 ms, 250 ms, and 0 ms trace intervals. Overall, patients acquired CRs to a level similar to the untrained controls, but were significantly impaired compared to the trained controls. The pattern of acquisition suggests that amnesic patients may be relying on the expression of previously acquired, likely cerebellar based, procedural memory representations in trace conditioning.
- Pavlovian conditioning
- associative learning
- bitemporal amnesia
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology