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Title: Mnemonic functions in the macaque monkey : further insight into the role of the fornix
Author: Kwok, Sze Chai
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2008
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The fornical tract, a major input-output pathway of the hippocampus, of the primate brain makes crucial contributions to visual memory, as effects after surgical or aetiological lesions of this tract are widely documented in the monkey and human literature. Here, a series of experiments sought to further elucidate the functions of this structure with a battery of novel tasks in macaque monkeys, conducted either on a touchscreen or in an ambulatory chamber, so as to offer a more global view of the mnemonic role accomplished by it. After receiving bilateral transection of the fornix, monkeys are impeded in the 'fast learning' phase of a large number of new visuospatial conditional problems, with major impairments seen in eliminating non-perseverative errors. These fornix transected monkeys are however facilitated in the initial acquisition of a visuovisual conditional task, with facilitation seen in their improved ability in eliminating perseverative errors. It is also demonstrated in an ambulatory apparatus, in comparison to control monkeys, these monkeys are impaired in the new learning of visuospatial context of environments, albeit still displaying intact locomotor and exploratory behaviour patterns. Contrary to the relatively clear role in new learning, the involvement of the fornix in memory retention over the very long-term is unknown. It is shown here that once some visuospatial information is learnt; the fornix is no longer implicated in the retention of the material. The effects of fornix transection are also found to be detrimental on a spatial recognition task, with impairments observed in acquisition of the more demanding stages of the task. The overall results covered in this thesis support previous work suggesting that the fornix mediates the new learning of visual information, and I further propose that this fornical involvement lies primarily in the learning of spatio-temporal contexts, particularly during 'fast learning', as well as in task-sets acquisition. I also argue for dissociation in the contributions of the fornix and hippocampus to some memory processes in the macaque.
Supervisor: Buckley, M. Sponsor: China Oxford Scholarship Fund ; Medical Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Neuropsychology ; Experimental psychology ; behavioural neuroscience ; memory ; learning