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Hippocampus

The postrhinal cortex is not necessary for landmark control in rat head direction cells.


PMID 27860052

Abstract

The rodent postrhinal cortex (POR), homologous to primate areas TH/TF and the human 'parahippocampal place area', has been implicated in processing visual landmark and contextual information about the environment. Head direction (HD) cells are neurons that encode allocentric head direction, independent of the animal's location or behavior, and are influenced by manipulations of visual landmarks. The present study determined whether the POR plays a role in processing environmental information within the HD circuit. Experiment 1 tested the role of the POR in processing visual landmark cues in the HD system during manipulation of a visual cue. HD cells from POR lesioned animals had similar firing properties, shifted their preferred firing direction following rotation of a salient visual cue, and in darkness had preferred firing directions that drifted at the same rate as controls. Experiment 2 tested the PORs involvement in contextual fear conditioning, where the animal learns to associate a shock with both a tone and a context in which the shock was given. In agreement with previous studies, POR lesioned animals were able to learn the tone-shock pairing, but displayed less freezing relative to controls when reintroduced into the environment previously paired with a shock. Therefore, HD cells from POR lesioned animals, with demonstrated impairments in contextual fear conditioning, were able to use a visual landmark to control their preferred direction. Thus, despite its importance in processing visual landmark information in primates, the POR in rats does not appear to play a pivotal role in controlling visual landmark information in the HD system. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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