Research into object recognition memory has been galvanised by the introduction of spontaneous preference tests for rodents. The standard task, however, contains a number of inherent shortcomings that reduce its power. Particular issues include the problem that individual trials are time consuming, so limiting the total number of trials in any condition. In addition, the spontaneous nature of the behaviour and the variability between test objects add unwanted noise. To combat these issues, the 'bow-tie maze' was introduced. Although still based on the spontaneous preference of novel over familiar stimuli, the ability to give multiple trials within a session without handling the rodents, as well as using the same objects as both novel and familiar samples on different trials, overcomes key limitations in the standard task. Giving multiple trials within a single session also creates new opportunities for functional imaging of object recognition memory. A series of studies are described that examine the expression of the immediate-early gene, c-fos. Object recognition memory is associated with increases in perirhinal cortex and area Te2 c-fos activity. When rats explore novel objects the pathway from the perirhinal cortex to lateral entorhinal cortex, and then to the dentate gyrus and CA3, is engaged. In contrast, when familiar objects are explored the pathway from the perirhinal cortex to lateral entorhinal cortex, and then to CA1, takes precedence. The switch to the perforant pathway (novel stimuli) from the temporoammonic pathway (familiar stimuli) may assist the enhanced associative learning promoted by novel stimuli.
- Neural Pathways/physiology
- Neuropsychological Tests
- Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-fos/metabolism
- Recognition, Psychology/physiology