Separate but interacting recognition memory systems for different senses: the role of the rat perirhinal cortex

Learn Mem. 2011 Jun 17;18(7):435-43. doi: 10.1101/lm.2132911. Print 2011 Jul.


Two different models (convergent and parallel) potentially describe how recognition memory, the ability to detect the re-occurrence of a stimulus, is organized across different senses. To contrast these two models, rats with or without perirhinal cortex lesions were compared across various conditions that controlled available information from specific sensory modalities. Intact rats not only showed visual, tactile, and olfactory recognition, but also overcame changes in the types of sensory information available between object sampling and subsequent object recognition, e.g., between sampling in the light and recognition in the dark, or vice versa. Perirhinal lesions severely impaired object recognition whenever visual cues were available, but spared olfactory recognition and tactile-based object recognition when tested in the dark. The perirhinal lesions also blocked the ability to recognize an object sampled in the light and then tested for recognition in the dark, or vice versa. The findings reveal parallel recognition systems for different senses reliant on distinct brain areas, e.g., perirhinal cortex for vision, but also show that: (1) recognition memory for multisensory stimuli involves competition between sensory systems and (2) perirhinal cortex lesions produce a bias to rely on vision, despite the presence of intact recognition memory systems serving other senses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Cues
  • Discrimination Learning / physiology
  • Entorhinal Cortex / injuries
  • Entorhinal Cortex / physiology*
  • Maze Learning / drug effects
  • Maze Learning / physiology
  • N-Methylaspartate / adverse effects
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Rats
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Recognition, Psychology / drug effects
  • Recognition, Psychology / physiology*
  • Smell / physiology*
  • Touch / physiology*
  • Transfer, Psychology / physiology
  • Video Recording / methods
  • Visual Perception / physiology*


  • N-Methylaspartate