Neural correlates of object identity and reward outcome in the sensory cortical-hippocampal hierarchy: coding of motivational information in perirhinal cortex

Cereb Cortex. 2024 Jan 31;34(2):bhae002. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhae002.


Neural circuits support behavioral adaptations by integrating sensory and motor information with reward and error-driven learning signals, but it remains poorly understood how these signals are distributed across different levels of the corticohippocampal hierarchy. We trained rats on a multisensory object-recognition task and compared visual and tactile responses of simultaneously recorded neuronal ensembles in somatosensory cortex, secondary visual cortex, perirhinal cortex, and hippocampus. The sensory regions primarily represented unisensory information, whereas hippocampus was modulated by both vision and touch. Surprisingly, the sensory cortices and the hippocampus coded object-specific information, whereas the perirhinal cortex did not. Instead, perirhinal cortical neurons signaled trial outcome upon reward-based feedback. A majority of outcome-related perirhinal cells responded to a negative outcome (reward omission), whereas a minority of other cells coded positive outcome (reward delivery). Our results highlight a distributed neural coding of multisensory variables in the cortico-hippocampal hierarchy. Notably, the perirhinal cortex emerges as a crucial region for conveying motivational outcomes, whereas distinct functions related to object identity are observed in the sensory cortices and hippocampus.

Keywords: barrel cortex; cross-modal; multisensory; object recognition; visual cortex.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Hippocampus / physiology
  • Parietal Lobe
  • Perirhinal Cortex*
  • Rats
  • Reward
  • Visual Perception / physiology