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The hippocampus, prefrontal cortex, and perirhinal cortex are critical to incidental order memory.

  • Author(s): Allen, Leila M
  • Lesyshyn, Rachel A
  • O'Dell, Steven J
  • Allen, Timothy A
  • Fortin, Norbert J
  • et al.

Considerable research in rodents and humans indicates the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex are essential for remembering temporal relationships among stimuli, and accumulating evidence suggests the perirhinal cortex may also be involved. However, experimental parameters differ substantially across studies, which limits our ability to fully understand the fundamental contributions of these structures. In fact, previous studies vary in the type of temporal memory they emphasize (e.g., order, sequence, or separation in time), the stimuli and responses they use (e.g., trial-unique or repeated sequences, and incidental or rewarded behavior), and the degree to which they control for potential confounding factors (e.g., primary and recency effects, or order memory deficits secondary to item memory impairments). To help integrate these findings, we developed a new paradigm testing incidental memory for trial-unique series of events, and concurrently assessed order and item memory in animals with damage to the hippocampus, prefrontal cortex, or perirhinal cortex. We found that this new approach led to robust order and item memory, and that hippocampal, prefrontal and perirhinal damage selectively impaired order memory. These findings suggest the hippocampus, prefrontal cortex and perirhinal cortex are part of a broad network of structures essential for incidentally learning the order of events in episodic memory.

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