Dopaminergic lesions of the anterior cingulate cortex of rats increase vulnerability to salient distractors.

Academic Article


  • The anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) has been shown to be critical to many aspects of executive function including filtering irrelevant information, updating response contingencies when reinforcement contingencies change and stabilizing task sets. Nonspecific lesions to this region in rats produce a vulnerability to distractors that have gained salience through prior associations with reinforcement. These lesions also exacerbate cognitive fatigue in tests of sustained attention but do not produce global attentional impairments nor do they produce distractibility to novel distractors that do not have a prior association with reinforcement. To determine the neurochemical basis of these cognitive impairments, dopaminergically selective lesions of the ACC were made in both male and female Long-Evans, hooded rats prior to assessment in two attentional tasks. Dopaminergic lesions of the ACC increase the vulnerability of subjects to previously reinforced distractors and impede formation of an attentional set. Lesioned rats were not more susceptible to the effects of novel, irrelevant stimuli in a test of sustained attention as has been previously shown. Additionally, the effects of dopaminergic lesions were found to differ based on sex. Lesioned female, but not male, rats were more vulnerable than sham-lesioned females to the effects of prolonged testing and the removal of reinforcement during a test of sustained attention. Together, these data support the hypothesis that dopamine in the ACC is critical to filtering distractors whose salience has been gained through reinforcement.
  • Authors

  • Clement, Madison K
  • Pimentel, Cynthia S
  • McGaughy, Jill
  • Publication Date

  • April 23, 2024
  • Has Subject Area

    Published In


  • dopamine
  • prefrontal cortex
  • salience
  • selective attention
  • sustained attention
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 38654478