Paradoxical reversal learning enhancement by stress or prefrontal cortical damage: rescue with BDNF.
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Stress affects various forms of cognition. We found that moderate stress enhanced late reversal learning in a mouse touchscreen-based choice task. Ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) lesions mimicked the effect of stress, whereas orbitofrontal and dorsolateral striatal lesions impaired reversal. Stress facilitation of reversal was prevented by BDNF infusion into the vmPFC. These findings suggest a mechanism by which stress-induced vmPFC dysfunction disinhibits learning by alternate (for example, striatal) systems.