Damage to the retrosplenial cortex produces specific impairments in spatial working memory

Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2009 May;91(4):408-14. doi: 10.1016/j.nlm.2008.10.009. Epub 2008 Dec 10.


Mounting evidence indicates that the retrosplenial cortex (RSP) has a critical role in spatial navigation. The goal of the present study was to characterize the specific nature of spatial memory deficits that are observed following damage to RSP. Rats with RSP lesions or sham lesions were first trained in a working memory task using an 8-arm radial arm maze. Rats were allowed 5min to visit each arm and retrieve food pellets and a 5-s delay was imposed between arm choices. Consistent with previous research, rats with RSP damage committed more errors than controls. In particular, RSP-lesioned rats committed more errors of omission (failing to visit an arm of the maze), but there were no lesion effects on errors of commission (revisiting an arm). Neither group of rats exhibited a turn bias (i.e., always turning a certain direction when choosing an arm). At the end of the training phase of the experiment, both groups had reached asymptote and committed very few errors. In the subsequent test phase, a longer delay (30-s) was imposed during some sessions. Both control and RSP-lesioned rats continued to make few errors during sessions with the standard 5-s delay, but RSP-lesioned rats were impaired at the 30-s delay and committed more errors of commission, consistent with an increase in taxing spatial working memory.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Gyrus Cinguli / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Maze Learning / physiology
  • Memory Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Space Perception / physiology*