Visualising pathways for learning about novelty in the rodent brain
Recognition memory is the ability to distinguish novel from familiar stimuli. This thesis explores opposing models of recognition memory that alternatively assume that the perirhinal cortex and hippocampus (regions of the medial temporal lobe) must functionally interact to support recognition memory or that the perirhinal cortex can support this process independently. Additionally, the way in which these areas differentially interact to support learning about novel compared to familiar stimuli was examined.\ud To achieve this, rats with lesions to the hippocampus or perirhinal cortex were given tests of object recognition memory or allowed to explore novel stimuli, after which, regional neuronal activity and network interactions were explored. This was achieved by immediate-early gene imaging; the expression of c-fos was used as a marker of neuronal activity, allowing for the assessment of regional activity at an extremely high anatomical resolution. Network interactions were explored using structural equation modelling; a statistical technique that made it possible to test if the observed activity could be mapped on to known anatomical pathways. In this way, network dynamics supporting these behavioural tasks were explored. Thus, the functional interdependence of the hippocampus and perirhinal cortex was tested both when the brain was intact and following lesions. This was done at multiple levels; behaviourally, at the level of regional activation and at the level of systems interactions.
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