Delay-dependent involvement of the rat entorhinal cortex in habituation to a novel environment


  • Cauter T Van
  • Poucet Bruno
  • Save E.


  • Entorhinal cortex
  • Spatial cognition
  • Rat
  • Exploration

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Evidence has accumulated that the entorhinal cortex (EC) is involved in memory operations underlying formation of a long-term memory. Because entorhinal-lesioned rats are impaired for long delays in delayed matching and non-matching to sample tasks, it has been proposed that EC contributes to the maintenance of information in short-term memory. In the present study, we asked whether such a time-limited role applies also when learning complex spatial information in a novel environment. We therefore examined the effects of EC lesions on habituation in an object exploration task in which a delay of either 4 min or 10 min is imposed between successive sessions. EC-lesioned rats exhibited a deficit in habituation at 10 min but not 4 min delays. Following habituation, reactions to spatial change (object configuration) and non-spatial change (novel object) were also examined. EC-lesioned rats were impaired in detecting the spatial change but were able to detect a non-spatial change, irrespective of the delay. Overall, the results suggest that EC is involved in maintaining a large amount of novel, multidimensional information in short-term memory therefore enabling formation of long-term memory. Switching to a novelty detection mode would then allow the animal to rapidly adapt to environmental changes. In this mode, EC would preferentially process spatial information rather than non-spatial information.

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