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Behav Neurosci. 2010 Oct;124(5):706-9. doi: 10.1037/a0021029.

"I've seen it all before": explaining age-related impairments in object recognition. Theoretical comment on Burke et al. (2010).

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Glickenhaus Laboratory of Neuropsychology, Department of Neuroscience, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, One Gustave L. Levy Place, New York, NY 10029, USA.


Animal models are useful in elucidating the neural basis of age-related impairments in cognition. Burke, Wallace, Nematollahi, Uprety, and Barnes (2010) tested young and aged rats in several different protocols to measure object recognition memory and found that object recognition deficits in aged rats were consistent with these rats behaving as if novel objects were familiar, rather than familiar objects being treated as novel (that is, forgotten). A similar pattern of behavior has been observed in young rats with perirhinal cortex lesions. Moreover, age-related impairments in object recognition were uncorrelated with deficits in spatial learning in the water maze, a task that requires the integrity of the hippocampus and is also reliably impaired in aged rats. Taken together, these findings support functional specialization of structures within the medial temporal lobe "memory system," as well as the independence of age-related deficits in different cognitive domains. They also potentially form a foundation for neurobiological study of age-related impairments in perirhinal cortex function.

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