The rat perirhinal cortex: A review of anatomy, physiology, plasticity, and function

Prog Neurobiol. 2011 Apr;93(4):522-48. doi: 10.1016/j.pneurobio.2011.03.002. Epub 2011 Mar 21.


The perirhinal cortex is located in a pivotal position to influence the flow of information into and out of the hippocampal formation. In this review, we examine the anatomical, physiological and functional properties of the rat perirhinal cortex. Firstly, we review the properties of the perirhinal cortex itself, we describe how it can be separated into two distinct subregions and consider how it differs from other neighbouring regions in terms of cell type, cellular organisation and its afferent and efferent projections. We review the forms of neurotransmission present in the perirhinal cortex and the morphological, electrophysiological and plastic properties of its neurons. Secondly, we review the perirhinal cortex in the context of its connections with other brain areas; focussing on the projections to cortical, subcortical and hippocampal/parahippocampal regions. Particular attention is paid the anatomical and electrophysiological properties of these projections. Thirdly, we review the main functions of the perirhinal cortex; its roles in perception, recognition memory, spatial and contextual memory and fear conditioning are explored. Finally, we discuss the idea of anatomical, electrophysiological and functional segregation within the perirhinal cortex itself and as part of a hippocampal-parahippocampal network and suggest that understanding this segregation is of critical importance in understanding the role and contributions made by the perirhinal cortex in general.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cerebral Cortex / anatomy & histology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Conditioning, Psychological / physiology
  • Electrophysiology
  • Hippocampus / anatomy & histology
  • Hippocampus / physiology
  • Memory / physiology
  • Neural Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Rats
  • Synapses / metabolism
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology