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Neuronal Sianallina of Information Imoortant to Visual Recognition-Memory in Rat Rhinal aid Neighbouring Cortices

Authors


Correspondence to: Dr M. W. Brown, as above

Abstract

This study was conducted to discover whether the rat cortex contains neurons that signal information concerning the previous occurrence of stimuli, as has been found in the primate. Recordings of the activity of 396 single neurons were made while unanaesthetized rats were shown objects. The effects on neuronal responsiveness of stimulus repetition and of the relative familiarity of the stimuli were sought. The areas sampled were the rhinal (entorhinal and perirhinal) cortex, area TE of the temporal cortex, the lateral occipital cortex and the hippocampal formation. The response to the first presentations of objects was significantly different from that to their second presentations for 63 (34%) of the 185 responsive neurons; for 39 of the neurons the response was smaller when the stimulus was repeated, whereas for 24 it was larger. The incidence of decremental responses was higher in the non-hippocampal cortex than in the hippocampal formation, while the incidence of incremental responses was higher in the hippocampal formation than other cortical areas. The response to unfamiliar objects was significantly different from that to highly familiar objects for 15 (22%) of 67 responsive neurons so tested; for 12 of the neurons the response was smaller when the stimulus was repeated, and for three it was larger; most of these neurons were found in area TE. The responses of ten familiarity neurons varied significantly with the relative familiarity of the stimuli but not with stimulus repetition; the responses of seven recency neurons varied significantly upon stimulus repetition but not with the relative familiarity of the stimuli. Thus information concerning stimulus repetition and familiarity is separably encoded at the single neuron level in the rat cortex. The results demonstrate that in the rat cortex as in the monkey cortex there are neurons that signal information concerning the prior occurrence of stimuli; such information is of importance to recognition memory, working memory and priming memory.

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