Retrosplenial cortex and its role in cue-specific learning and memory

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2019 Dec;107:713-728. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2019.04.016. Epub 2019 May 2.


The retrosplenial cortex (RSC) contributes to spatial navigation, as well as contextual learning and memory. However, a growing body of research suggests that the RSC also contributes to learning and memory for discrete cues, such as auditory or visual stimuli. In this review, we summarize and assess the Pavlovian and instrumental conditioning experiments that have examined the role of the RSC in cue-specific learning and memory. We use the term cue-specific to refer to these putatively non-spatial conditioning paradigms that involve discrete cues. Although these paradigms emphasize behavior related to cue presentations, we note that cue-specific learning and memory always takes place against a background of contextual stimuli. We review multiple ways by which contexts can influence responding to discrete cues and suggest that RSC contributions to cue-specific learning and memory are intimately tied to contextual learning and memory. Indeed, although the RSC is involved in several forms of cue-specific learning and memory, we suggest that many of these can be linked to processing of contextual stimuli.

Keywords: Context; Discrimination learning; Extinction; Fear conditioning; Instrumental learning; Pavlovian conditioning; Remote memory; Retrosplenial cortex.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology
  • Cues*
  • Gyrus Cinguli / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Memory / physiology*