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Place memory and scene memory: effects of fornix transection in the monkey

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Summary

Five experiments examined the effects of fornix transection upon some spatial and visual learning tasks in monkeys (Macaca fascicularis). For each trial of each task, the monkey was brought to a test tray and allowed to choose between 2 objects on the tray. In different tasks, different cues were provided by the experimenter to guide the monkey's choices. In total 5 different tasks were run (Experiments 1 to 5) and the results showed that the effects of fornix transection varied markedly between tasks: the animals with fornix transection were severely impaired in experiments 1, 3 and 5 but learned normally in experiments 2 and 4. It is concluded that the results cannot be explained by the simple hypothesis of a deficit in place learning, since some forms of place learning are unimpaired by fornix transection. A better general hypothesis is that the memory disrupted by fornix transection is like a snapshot memory, which stores the spatial arrangement of items in a witnessed scene.

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References

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Correspondence to D. Gaffan.

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Gaffan, D., Harrison, S. Place memory and scene memory: effects of fornix transection in the monkey. Exp Brain Res 74, 202–212 (1989). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00248293

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Key words

  • Hippocampus
  • Fornix
  • Spatial
  • Memory
  • Monkeys
  • Learning