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Learning response inhibition is not associated with gradual changes in EEG oscillation power in rats

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Title: Learning response inhibition is not associated with gradual changes in EEG oscillation power in rats
Author(s): Nurmi, Joonas
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences
Degree program: Master 's Programme in Neuroscience
Specialisation: Neuroscience
Language: English
Acceptance year: 2022
Goal-directed behavior is reliant on the ability to choose correct actions to perform given the context of the situation while minimizing the interfering effect of goal-irrelevant stimuli. The ability to suppress inappropriate responses is called response inhibition. It can be seen as a higher order cognitive function which is one of the cornerstones for adaptive behavior in ever changing environment. Neural oscillations have been previously used to study at the neuronal processes underlying cognitive processes such as response inhibition. Neural oscillations are rhythmic fluctuation in the excitability of a neuron or a group of neurons. These temporal windows of excitability are thought to underlie efficient communication by changing the efficacy of the synaptic transmissions between neurons/group of neurons. Although, a lot has been uncovered about the different oscillations and their possible role in response inhibition, very little is known how the spectral content (power of a frequency) adapts across as the animal is learning to suppress their responses to new novel stimuli. This kind of learning associated spectral content adaptations has been observed previously in humans during motor learning for example. In the current study we aimed to look how spectral content adapts as the animals learn to suppress their responses to novel stimuli. We used head fixed rats on a treadmill that were trained to perform Go/NoGo task. Each rat performed 1-4 learning scenarios during which the “rules” for Go/NoGo task changes in an attentional set-shifting paradigm. We measured EEG from most of the rat’s cortex. EEG was measured from the point where the rat was first introduced to these novel stimuli until the rat had learned the new stimulus-response contingences. This EEG was divided into learning stages and the power spectrum was calculated for each of them. We observed power peaks centered around 1Hz, 2Hz, 4Hz, 8Hz and 11Hz across learning stages. However further analyses comparing average power across learning stages showed that these changes were not statistically significant. Thus, we did not observe gradual changes in power while rats were learning to suppress their responses to novel stimuli.
Keyword(s): Response inhibition Neural oscillation EEG Go/NoGo task Set-shift task head-fixed rat

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