It has been proposed that cortico-striato-thalamo-cortical circuits that incorporate the prefrontal cortex and dorsal striatum regulate interval timing behaviour. The present experiment examined whether performance on the fixed-interval peak procedure (FIPP), an immediate timing schedule, would induce neuronal activity in cortical and striatal areas, as revealed by enhanced expression of the Fos protein, a marker for neuronal activation. Regional Fos expression was compared between rats trained on the FIPP and rats trained on a variable-interval (VI) schedule matched to the FIPP for overall response rate and reinforcer delivery. Response rate in the peak trials of the FIPP conformed to a temporally differentiated pattern, which was well described by a modified Gaussian function; in agreement with previous findings, the peak time occurred close to the time at which the reinforcer was delivered in the fixed-interval trials, and the Weber fraction was within the range of values reported previously. The density of Fos-positive neurones (counts mm(-2)) in the orbital prefrontal cortex (OPFC) was greater in rats exposed to the FIPP than in rats exposed to the VI schedule, suggesting a greater activation of this area during the performance of the former task. This is consistent with the results of previous studies that have implicated the OPFC in interval timing behaviour. However, there was no significant difference between the levels of Fos expression in the dorsal or ventral striatum of the rats trained under the two schedules.
Bibliographical noteCopyright © 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
- conditioning, operant
- corpus striatum
- prefrontal cortex
- proto-oncogene proteins c-fos
- rats, wistar
- reinforcement schedule
- time factors