We have examined the effects of transient cerebral ischemia on performance of a one-trial passive avoidance task,by chicks. Transient forebrain ischemia was induced by bilateral carotid artery occlusion for a period of 10 min. In one experimental group, ischemia was produced prior to training on the avoidance task whereas in the other group ischemie intervention was not made until 3 h after initial training. Sham-operated groups were matched to each of the experimental groups. All four groups were tested for retention of the avoidance response 24 h post-surgery. The sham-operated birds and those receiving post-training ischemia showed good retention of the avoidance response, whereas in birds which received ischemia prior to training there was significant amnesia. Neuronal damage, determined qualitatively using a silver impregnation method, was observed in several forebrain regions including the hippocampus, hyperstriatal regions, paleostriatum primitivum, ventral archistriatum, and lateral corticoid area. Damage was also observed in the Purkinje cells of the cerebellum. The behavioural and anatomical effects of transient forebrain ischemia have not been previously investigated in an avian species and the finding of significant amnesia for a learning task following ischemia is in good agreement with several behavioural studies in mammals.
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