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Learn Mem. 2014 Jan 16;21(2):90-7. doi: 10.1101/lm.032136.113.

A novel role for the rat retrosplenial cortex in cognitive control.

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  • 1School of Psychology, Cardiff University, Cardiff CF10 3AT, United Kingdom.


By virtue of its frontal and hippocampal connections, the retrosplenial cortex is uniquely placed to support cognition. Here, we tested whether the retrosplenial cortex is required for frontal tasks analogous to the Stroop Test, i.e., for the ability to select between conflicting responses and inhibit responding to task-irrelevant cues. Rats first acquired two instrumental conditional discriminations, one auditory and one visual, set in two distinct contexts. As a result, rats were rewarded for pressing either the right or left lever when a particular auditory or visual signal was present. In extinction, rats received compound stimuli that either comprised the auditory and visual elements that signaled the same lever response (congruent) or signaled different lever responses (incongruent) during training. On conflict (incongruent) trials, lever selection by sham-operated animals followed the stimulus element that had previously been trained in that same test context, whereas animals with retrosplenial cortex lesions failed to disambiguate the conflicting response cues. Subsequent experiments demonstrated that this abnormality on conflict trials was not due to a failure in distinguishing the contexts. Rather, these data reveal the selective involvement of the rat retrosplenial cortex in response conflict, and so extend the frontal system underlying cognitive control.

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