The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience
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Damage to perirhinal cortex (PRh) impairs object recognition memory in humans, monkeys, and rats when tested in tasks such as delayed nonmatching to sample, visual paired comparison, and its rodent analog, the spontaneous object recognition task. In the present study, we have capitalized on the discrete one-trial nature of the spontaneous object recognition task to investigate the role of PRh in several distinct stages of object recognition memory. In a series of experiments, transient inactivation of PRh was accomplished with bilateral infusions of lidocaine directly into PRh immediately before the sample phase (encoding), immediately before the choice phase (retrieval), or within the retention delay after the sample phase (storage-consolidation). Compared with performance on trials in which they received saline infusions, rats were significantly impaired when lidocaine was infused before the sample phase, regardless of the length of the retention delay. Similarly, delay-independent deficits were observed after immediate pre-choice infusions of lidocaine. Finally, PRh inactivation immediately and 20 min after the sample phase, but not 40, 60, or 80 min after, also disrupted subsequent object recognition when the retention delay was sufficiently long to ensure the dissipation of the actions of lidocaine during the choice phase. The effects of pre-sample and pre-choice inactivation indicate involvement of PRh in encoding and retrieval stages of object recognition, and the time course of post-sample inactivation effects suggests a role for PRh in the maintenance of the object trace during memory consolidation.