The authors used an associative learning paradigm to assess the effects of perirhinal or postrhinal damage on attentional orienting. Control rats and rats with lesions of either the perirhinal or postrhinal cortex initially displayed high levels of orienting behavior (rearing) to presentations of a light cue. Continued nonreinforced presentations resulted in normal habituation of the response. In addition, orienting reemerged in control rats, indicating increased attentional processing of the cue. This conditioned orienting did not reemerge in rats with either perirhinal or postrhinal lesions, providing direct evidence that the rat perirhinal and postrhinal cortices each play a role in attention. These results are consistent with an emerging view that some structures within the medial temporal lobe have nonmnemonic functions.
Copyright 2004 APA.