Dissociation of item and order spatial memory in rats following medial prefrontal cortex lesions

Neuropsychologia. 1987;25(4):653-64. doi: 10.1016/0028-3932(87)90056-x.


In order to test whether there is a correspondence in function of prefrontal cortex in rats and humans, rats with medial prefrontal cortex lesions were tested for item and order memory for a list of items (spatial locations in a maze). Results indicate that for order memory rats with medial prefrontal cortex lesions cannot remember the order of presentation of four or eight specific spatial locations. This inability to remember order information can be seen even when animals with lesions have to remember only two spatial locations, can self-order the sequence of four or eight spatial locations, or have been presented with the same study phase on every trial. In contrast, for item memory animals with medial prefrontal cortex lesions retain the first item of the list in the variable study phase situation and remember all the items of the list in a constant study phase situation. However, there are also deficits for the last items within a list in the variable study phase situation for both win-stay and win-shift procedures. This deficit might be a function of an impairment in the utilization of appropriate temporal strategies, which normally would facilitate recognition memory in the win-stay and win-shift tasks. In general, the data suggest a partial, but not complete, dissociation of item-order memory. Furthermore, the data suggest that the medial prefrontal cortex is involved in temporal structuring of information.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Discrimination Learning / physiology*
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology*
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Space Perception / physiology*
  • Time Factors