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Keywords:

  • discrimination learning set;
  • ibotenic acid;
  • primary reinforcement;
  • reversal learning

Abstract

Much work on the cognitive functions of the primate rhinal (i.e. entorhinal plus perirhinal) cortex has been based on aspiration lesions of this structure, which might disrupt fibres passing nearby and through the rhinal cortex in addition to removing the cell bodies of the rhinal cortex itself. To determine whether damage limited to the cell bodies of the rhinal cortex is sufficient to impair visual learning and memory, four rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) were preoperatively trained on a battery of visual learning and memory tasks, including single-pair discrimination learning for primary reinforcement, single-pair discrimination reversals, concurrent discrimination learning and reversal, and delayed matching-to-sample. Following acquisition of these tasks and a preoperative performance test, ibotenic acid was injected bilaterally into the rhinal cortex, and the monkeys were retested. Consistent with the results of studies using aspiration lesions, the monkeys were impaired on single-pair discrimination learning as well as recognition memory performance postoperatively, although reliable reversal learning impairments were not observed. The magnitude of postoperative impairment in discrimination learning was not correlated with the magnitude of postoperative impairment in recognition memory, suggesting a possible dissociation between these functions within the rhinal cortex. The correspondence of behavioural deficits following aspiration and neurotoxic lesions of the rhinal cortex validates the attribution of various cognitive functions to this structure, based on the results of studies with aspiration lesions.