Interaction between the medial prefrontal cortex and hippocampal CA1 area is essential for episodic-like memory in rats

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The interplay between medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and hippocampus, particularly the hippocampal CA3 area, is critical for episodic memory. To what extent the mPFC also interacts with the hippocampus CA1 subregion still requires elucidation. To investigate this issue, male rats received unilateral N-methyl-D-aspartate lesions of the mPFC together with unilateral lesions of the hippocampal CA1 area, either in the same (control) or in the opposite hemispheres (disconnection). They underwent an episodic-like memory test, combining what-where-when information, and separate tests for novel object preference (what), object place preference (where) and temporal order memory (when). Compared to controls, the disconnected mPFC-CA1 rats exhibited disrupted episodic-like memory with an impaired integration of the what-where-when elements. Both groups showed intact memories for what and when, while only the control group showed intact memory for where. These findings suggest that the functional interaction of the mPFC-CA1 circuit is crucial for the processing of episodic memory and, in particular, for the integration of the spatial memory component.

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