Prefrontal connections of the perirhinal and postrhinal cortices in the rat

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Abstract

Knowing how prefrontal regions interact with medial temporal lobe structures is important for understanding memory and cognition. Using anterograde and retrograde tract tracing methods in the rat, we report a detailed study of the perirhinal (PER) and postrhinal (POR) connections with the lateral, ventrolateral, and medial orbitofrontal cortices (ORBl, ORBvl, ORBm), infralimbic and prelimbic cortices (IL, PL), ventral and dorsal anterior cingulate cortices (ACAv, ACAd), and secondary motor cortex (MOs). Our analyses included the topography and laminar patterns of these connections. The PER and POR showed reciprocal connectivity with all prefrontal regions examined, but the patterns of connections differed. In general, PER areas 36 and 35 showed patterns of connectivity that were more similar to each other than to those of the POR. Analysis of anterograde tracers showed that PER areas 36 and 35 provide the strongest projections to prefrontal regions. The heaviest fiber labeling was in IL and PL, closely followed by orbital regions. Fiber labeling arising from injections in POR was weaker overall. The strongest POR efferents targeted MOs, ACAv, and ORBvl. For return projections, analysis of retrograde tracers showed that PER areas 36 and 35 receive strong inputs from orbitofrontal and medial prefrontal regions. Interestingly, PER also received substantial inputs from MOs and ACAd. The POR receives a very strong input from MOs, followed by ACAd, and ORBvl. Based on comparison of our findings with those obtained in monkeys, we argue that the rodent ACAd and MOs may be a functional homolog of the primate dorsolateral prefrontal cortex.

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