Beyond spatial memory: The anterior thalamus and memory for the temporal order of a sequence of odor cues

M. Wolff
Journal of Neuroscience. 2006-03-15; 26(11): 2907-2913
DOI: 10.1523/jneurosci.5481-05.2006

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1. J Neurosci. 2006 Mar 15;26(11):2907-13.

Beyond spatial memory: the anterior thalamus and memory for the temporal order of
a sequence of odor cues.

Wolff M(1), Gibb SJ, Dalrymple-Alford JC.

Author information:
(1)Van der Veer Institute for Parkinson’s and Brain Research, Department of
Psychology, University of Canterbury, Christchurch 8020, New Zealand.

Influential recent proposals state that the anterior thalamic (AT) nuclei
constitute key components of an “extended hippocampal system.” This idea is,
however, based on lesion studies that used spatial memory tasks and there has
been no evidence that AT lesions cause deficits in any hippocampal-dependent
nonspatial tasks. The present study investigated the role of the AT nuclei in
nonspatial memory for a sequence of events based on the temporal order of a list
of odors, because this task has recently been shown to depend on the integrity of
the hippocampal formation. After preoperative training, rats with excitotoxic
lesions of the AT nuclei showed a severe and selective postoperative impairment
when required to remember the order of pseudorandom sequences of six odors. The
rats with AT lesions were able instead to learn two new tasks that required
recognition memory and the identification of the prior occurrence of events
independent of their order. These results strongly matched those described after
hippocampal lesions and provide the first unequivocal evidence of a detrimental
effect of an AT lesion on a nonspatial hippocampal-dependent memory task.

DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5481-05.2006
PMID: 16540567 [Indexed for MEDLINE]

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