The perirhinal cortex (PRh) is strategically located between the neocortex and memory-related structures such as the entorhinal cortex and the hippocampal formation. The pattern of strong reciprocal connections between these areas, together with experimental evidence that PRh damage induces specific memory deficits, has placed this cortical region at the center of a growing interest for its role in learning and memory mechanisms. The aim of the present study is to clarify the involvement of PRh in learning and retention in a novel experimental model of spatial working memory, the water T-maze. The data show that pre-acquisition neurotoxic PRh lesions caused task-learning deficits. This impairment was observed during the acquisition phase as well as the retrieval phase. On the other hand, a post-acquisition PRh neurotoxic lesion failed to impair the acquisition and the retrieval of the water T-maze task performed 32 day after lesion. These results suggest a possible key role of PRh in the acquisition but not in the retention of a working memory task. Furthermore, these results show that the water T-maze may be a suitable learning paradigm to study different components of learning and memory.
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