The perirhinal cortex (PRh) has a well-established role in object recognition memory. More recent studies suggest that PRh is also important for two-choice visual discrimination tasks. Specifically, it has been suggested that PRh contains conjunctive representations that help resolve feature ambiguity, which occurs when a task cannot easily be solved on the basis of features alone. However, no study has examined whether the ability of PRh to resolve configural feature ambiguity is related to its role in object recognition. Therefore, we examined whether bilateral excitotoxic lesions of PRh or PPRh (perirhinal plus post-rhinal cortices) in the rat would cause deficits in a configural spontaneous object recognition task, and a configural simultaneous oddity discrimination task, in which the task could not be solved on the basis of features, but could only be solved using conjunctive representations. As predicted by simulations using a computational model, rats with PPRh lesions were impaired during a minimal-delay configural object recognition task. These same rats were impaired during a zero-delay configural object recognition task. Furthermore, rats with localized PRh lesions were impaired in a configural simultaneous oddity discrimination task. These findings support the idea that PRh contains conjunctive representations for the resolution of feature ambiguity and that these representations underlie a dual role for PRh in memory and perception
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