Extensive Cytotoxic Lesions of the Rat Retrosplenial Cortex Reveal Consistent Deficits on Tasks That Tax Allocentric Spatial Memory


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Abstract

Despite the connections of the retrosplenial cortex strongly suggesting a role in spatial memory, the lesion data to date have been equivocal. Whether subjects are impaired after retrosplenial lesions seems to depend on whether the lesions were aspirative or excitotoxic, with the latter failing to produce an impairment. A shortcoming of previous excitotoxic lesion studies is that they spared the most caudal part of the retrosplenial cortex. The present study thus used rats with extensive neurotoxic lesions of the retrosplenial cortex that encompassed the entire rostrocaudal extent of this region. These rats were consistently impaired on several tests that tax allocentric memory. In contrast, they were unimpaired on an egocentric discrimination task. Although the lesions did not appear to affect object recognition, clear deficits were found for an object-in-place discrimination. The present study not only demonstrates a role for the retrosplenial cortex in allocentric spatial memory, but also explains why previous excitotoxic lesions have failed to detect any deficits.

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