Hippocampus and medial temporal cortex: neuronal activity related to behavioural responses during the performance of memory tasks by primates

Behav Brain Res. 1990 Oct 30;40(1):7-28. doi: 10.1016/0166-4328(90)90038-g.


Neuronal activity was recorded in the hippocampal formation, the parahippocampal gyrus and medial inferotemporal cortex of monkeys performing memory tasks. In a modified delayed matching to sample task in which 2 sequentially presented stimuli were compared on each trial, a match condition required a right panel press, whereas a non-match condition required a left panel press. The activity of 336/736 (45.7%) neurons was related to the behavioural responses (left or right panel presses) in this task. The incidence of response-related activity was 57.4% in cortical areas adjacent to the rhinal sulcus plus medial inferotemporal cortex, and 40.2% for the hippocampal formation. For 58.9% of these response-related neurons, the activity change associated with the behavioural response was greater than that during presentation of the sensory stimuli, though neurons commonly responded (33.2% of all recorded neurons) to both sensory and motor events. The activity of 198 neurons (26.9%) differed between go-left and go-right trials; such neurons were found in all areas but were nearly twice as common in the posterior as in the anterior hippocampal formation. The importance of visual stimuli for the response-related neuronal activity was examined during the performance of a delayed alternation task without visual cues indicating direction of response. The response-related activity of 8 neurons recorded during the delayed alternation and the delayed matching tasks was similar in both tasks, indicating that memory for the behavioural responses influences the activity of the response-related neurons. In order to test the effects of stimulus familiarity and non-spatial responses on medial temporal neurons, recognition memory and visual discrimination tasks requiring lick responses were performed. The activity of 2/375 (0.5%) neurons was related to the lick responses; 3/68 neurons in the inferomedial temporal cortex responded on the basis of stimulus novelty and none reflected their reinforcement value. It is concluded that the hippocampal formation, the parahippocampal gyrus and medial inferotemporal cortex all have a role in the utilisation of sensory, mnemonic and motor information underlying the selection of spatially-directed behavioural responses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Appetitive Behavior / physiology
  • Attention / physiology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Color Perception / physiology
  • Discrimination Learning / physiology
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Macaca fascicularis
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Mental Recall / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Orientation / physiology
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Retention, Psychology / physiology*
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology*