Conflict between place and response navigation strategies: Effects on vicarious trial and error (VTE) behaviors

Brandy Schmidt, Andrew Papale, A. David Redish, Etan J. Markus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Navigation can be accomplished through multiple decision-making strategies, using different information-processing computations. A well-studied dichotomy in these decision-making strategies compares hippocampal-dependent "place" and dorsal-lateral striatal-dependent "response" strategies. A place strategy depends on the ability to flexibly respond to environmental cues, while a response strategy depends on the ability to quickly recognize and react to situations with well-learned action-outcome relationships. When rats reach decision points, they sometimes pause and orient toward the potential routes of travel, a process termed vicarious trial and error (VTE). VTE co-occurs with neurophysiological information processing, including sweeps of representation ahead of the animal in the hippocampus and transient representations of reward in the ventral striatum and orbitofrontal cortex. To examine the relationship between VTE and the place/response strategy dichotomy, we analyzed data in which rats were cued to switch between place and response strategies on a plus maze. The configuration of the maze allowed for place and response strategies to work competitively or cooperatively. Animals showed increased VTE on trials entailing competition between navigational systems, linking VTE with deliberative decision-making. Even in a well-learned task, VTE was preferentially exhibited when a spatial selection was required, further linking VTE behavior with decision-making associated with hippocampal processing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)130-138
Number of pages9
JournalLearning and Memory
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2013


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