Visual memory task for rats reveals an essential role for hippocampus and perirhinal cortex

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Apr 6;101(14):5064-8. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0308528101. Epub 2004 Mar 29.


Visual recognition memory is subserved by a distributed set of neural circuits, which include structures of the temporal lobe. Conflicting experimental results regarding the role of the hippocampus in nonspatial forms of such memories have been attributed to species, task, and lesion discrepancies. We have overcome obstacles that have prevented a direct evaluation of the role of the hippocampus in this type of memory by developing for rats a nonspatial, picture-based, trial-unique, delayed matching-to-sample task that is a procedural analogue of standard visual recognition memory tasks used in primates. With this task, we demonstrate that rats have a visual memory profile, which is analogous to that in primates and depends on the function of perirhinal cortex. We also find that selective lesions of hippocampus impair delay-dependent visual memory with a profile different from that produced by damage to the perirhinal cortex. These data demonstrate that rats have a visual recognition memory system fundamentally similar to primates that depends on the function of the hippocampus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / surgery
  • Female
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Hippocampus / surgery
  • Memory*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Vision, Ocular*