Visual recognition impairment follows ventromedial but not dorsolateral prefrontal lesions in monkeys

Behav Brain Res. 1986 Jun;20(3):249-61. doi: 10.1016/0166-4328(86)90225-1.


Visual recognition in monkeys appears to involve the participation of two limbothalamic pathways, one including the amygdala and the magnocellular portion of the medial dorsal nucleus (MDmc) and the other, the hippocampus and the anterior nuclei of the thalamus (Ant N). Both MDmc and Ant N project, in turn, to the prefrontal cortex, mainly to its ventral and medial portions. To test whether the prefrontal projection targets of the two limbothalamic pathways also participate in memory functions, performance on a variety of learning and memory tasks was assessed in monkeys with lesions of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (Group VM). Normal monkeys and monkeys with lesions of dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (Group DL) served as controls. Group VM was severely impaired on a test of object recognition, whereas Group DL did not differ appreciably from normal animals. Conversely, the animals in Group VM were able to learn a spatial delayed response task, whereas 2 of the 3 animals in Group DL could not. Neither group was impaired in the acquisition of visual discrimination habits, even though the successive trials on a given discrimination were separated by 24-h intervals. The patterns of deficit suggest that ventromedial prefrontal cortex constitutes another station in the limbothalamic system underlying cognitive memory processes, whereas the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex lies outside this system. The results support the view that the classical delayed-response deficit observed after dorsolateral prefrontal lesions represents a perceptuo-mnemonic impairment in spatial functions selectively rather than a memory loss of a more general nature.

MeSH terms

  • Amygdala / physiology
  • Animals
  • Brain Mapping
  • Discrimination Learning / physiology
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology*
  • Hippocampus / physiology
  • Macaca fascicularis
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Thalamic Nuclei / physiology
  • Visual Perception / physiology*