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Elife. 2013 Jun 25;2:e00736. doi: 10.7554/eLife.00736.

Dismantling the Papez circuit for memory in rats.

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School of Psychology , Cardiff University , Cardiff , United Kingdom.


Over the last 50 years, anatomical models of memory have repeatedly highlighted the hippocampal inputs to the mammillary bodies via the postcommissural fornix. Such models downplay other projections to the mammillary bodies, leaving them largely ignored. The present study challenged this dominant view by removing, in rats, the two principal inputs reaching the mammillary bodies: the postcommissural fornix from the hippocampal formation and Gudden's ventral tegmental nucleus. The principal mammillary body output pathway, the mammillothalamic tract, was disconnected in a third group. Only mammillothalamic tract and Gudden's ventral tegmental nucleus lesions impaired behavioral tests of spatial working memory and, in particular, disrupted the use of extramaze spatial landmarks. The same lesions also produced widespread reductions in immediate-early gene (c-fos) expression in a network of memory-related regions, not seen after postcommissural fornix lesions. These findings are inconsistent with previous models of mammillary body function (those dominated by hippocampal inputs) and herald a new understanding of why specific diencephalic structures are vital for memory. DOI:


Gudden's tegmental nuclei; Rat; hippocampus; mammillary bodies; memory; prefrontal cortex; retrosplenial cortex

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