The parahippocampal region in the rodent brain includes the perirhinal, postrhinal, and entorhinal cortices, the presubiculum, and the parasubiculum. In recent years, the perirhinal and postrhinal cortices have been a focus in memory research because they supply highly processed, polymodal sensory information to the hippocampus, both directly and via the entorhinal cortex. Available evidence indicates that these cortices receive different complements of cortical information, which are then forwarded to the hippocampus via parallel pathways. Here we have summarized the cortical, subcortical, and hippocampal connections of the perirhinal and postrhinal cortices in order to provide further insight into the nature of the information that is processed by these regions prior to arriving in the hippocampus. As has been previously described, the cortical afferents of the rodent postrhinal cortex are dominated by structures known to be involved in the processing of visual and spatial information, whereas the cortical afferents of the perirhinal cortex result in remarkable convergence of polymodal sensory information. The two regions are also differentiated by their cortical efferents. The perirhinal cortex projects more strongly to piriform, frontal, and insular regions, whereas the postrhinal cortex projects preferentially to visual and visuospatial regions. The subcortical connections of the two regions provide further evidence that they have different functions. For example, the perirhinal cortex has strong reciprocal connections with the amygdala, which suggest involvement in processing affective stimuli. Subcortical input to the postrhinal cortex is dominated by projections from dorsal thalamic structures, particularly the lateral posterior nucleus. Although the perirhinal and postrhinal cortices are considered to contribute to the episodic memory system, many questions remain about their particular roles. A detailed description of the anatomical connections of the perirhinal and postrhinal cortices will permit the generation of new, anatomically guided, hypotheses about their role in episodic memory and other cognitive processes.
(c) 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.