Elemental and configural visual discrimination learning following lesions to perirhinal cortex in the rat.


Rats were tested in a series of two-choice visual discrimination tasks in a computer-controlled testing apparatus. The discriminations used a range of discriminanda, which varied in complexity. The discriminations included relatively simple form discriminations, more complex form discriminations and discriminations between compound stimuli that shared many features. It was found that rats with perirhinal cortex lesions were unimpaired in all discriminations except those that involved the compound stimuli with overlapping features. Using these stimuli, rats with perirhinal cortex lesions were unimpaired when the stage of learning did not necessitate discriminating stimuli on the basis of more than one feature. However, when efficient performance of the task needed the configuration of more than one feature to be taken into account, perirhinal lesioned rats were impaired. These results are interpreted as revealing the role of the perirhinal cortex in providing multifeature information about the properties of visual objects.


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