The differential role of the dorsal hippocampus in initiating and terminating timed responses: A lesion study using the switch-timing task

Tanya A. Gupta, Carter W. Daniels, J. Bryce Ortiz, McAllister Stephens, Paula Overby, Korinna Romero, Cheryl D. Conrad, Federico Sanabria

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This study investigated the role of the dorsal hippocampus (dHPC) in the temporal entrainment of behavior, while addressing limitations of previous evidence from peak procedure experiments. Rats were first trained on a switch-timing task in which food was obtained from one of two concurrently available levers; one lever was effective after 8 s and the other after 16 s. After performance stabilized, rats underwent either bilateral NMDA lesions of the dHPC or sham lesions. After recovery, switch-timing training resumed. In a subsequent condition, the switch-timing task was modified such that food was available after either 8 or 32 s. Although dHPC lesions had subtle and complex effects on when rats stopped seeking for food at the 8-s lever (departures), it more systematically reduced the time when rats started seeking for food at the 16-s and 32-s lever (switches). No systematic effect of dHPC lesions were observed on the coefficient of quartile variation (normalized dispersion) of latencies to switch. Within the context of the pacemaker-accumulator framework of interval timing, these findings suggest that partially or wholly independent mechanisms control the initiation and termination of timed responses, and that the dHPC is primarily involved in encoding the time to start responding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number112184
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
StatePublished - Dec 30 2019



  • Dorsal hippocampus
  • Interval timing
  • Multiple clocks
  • Response threshold
  • Simultaneous timing
  • Switch timing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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