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Keywords:

  • anxiety;
  • epilepsy;
  • exploration;
  • hippocampus;
  • object memory;
  • spatial memory

Abstract

Temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) is frequently accompanied by memory impairments and, although their bases are unknown, most research has focused on the hippocampus. The present study investigated the importance of another medial temporal lobe structure, the perirhinal cortex (Prh), in changes in memory in TLE using kindling as a model. Rats were kindled twice daily with anterior Prh stimulation until three fully generalized seizures were evoked. Beginning 7 days later and on successive days, rats were tested in an elevated plus maze, a large circular open field, an open field object exploration task and a delayed-match-to-place task in a water maze in order to assess anxiety-related and exploratory behaviour, object recognition memory and spatial cognition. Kindling increased anxiety-related behaviour in both the elevated plus and open field mazes and disrupted spontaneous object recognition but spared all other behaviours tested. These results are consistent with other findings indicating a greater role for the Prh in object memory and emotional behaviour than in spatial memory and contrast with the selective disruption of spatial memory produced by dorsal hippocampal kindling. The site-selectivity of the behavioural disruptions produced by kindling indicates that such effects are probably mediated by changes particular to the site of seizure initiation rather than to changes in the characteristic circuitry activated by limbic seizure generalization. Further investigation of the behavioural effects of Prh kindling may be useful for studying the mechanisms of mnemonic and affective dysfunction associated with TLE and offer insights into bases for variability in such dysfunction across patients.