The perirhinal cortex and long-term familiarity memory.
Rolls ET., Franco L., Stringer SM.
To analyse the functions of the perirhinal cortex, the activity of single neurons in the perirhinal cortex was recorded while macaques performed a delayed matching-to-sample task with up to three intervening stimuli. Some neurons had activity related to working memory, in that they responded more to the sample than to the match image within a trial, as shown previously. However, when a novel set of stimuli was introduced, the neuronal responses were on average only 47% of the magnitude of the responses to the set of very familiar stimuli. Moreover, it was shown in three monkeys that the responses of the perirhinal cortex neurons gradually increased over hundreds of presentations (mean = 400 over 7-13 days) of the new set of (initially novel) stimuli to become as large as those to the already familiar stimuli. Thus perirhinal cortex neurons represent the very long-term familiarity of visual stimuli. Part of the impairment in temporal lobe amnesia may be related to the difficulty of building representations of the degree of familiarity of stimuli. A neural network model of how the perirhinal cortex could implement long-term familiarity memory is proposed using Hebbian associative learning.