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Role of the posterior parietal cortex in multimodal spatial behaviours Kwan, Teresa


The posterior parietal cortex (PPC) is a cortical region receiving inputs from different sensory modalities which has been shown to subserve a visuospatial function. The potential contribution of PPC in audiospatial behaviours and recognition of amodal spatial correspondences were postulated and assessed in the present study. Adult male Long- Evans rats received PPC lesions by aspiration, and they were compared to sham operated control rats on three behavioural tasks. In the Morris water maze, the rats had to learn to use the distal visual cues to locate an escape platform hidden in the pool. In an open field task, the rats were assessed on their reactions to a spatial relocation of a visual or an auditory object. In a spatial cross-modal transfer (CMT) task (Tees & Buhrmann, 1989), rats were trained to respond to light signals using spatial rules, and were then subjected to transfer tests using comparable sound signals. Results from the Morris water maze, the open field, and the initial training phase of the spatial CMT task confirmed a visuospatial deficit in PPC lesioned rats. However, if given sufficient training, PPC lesioned rats could learn the location of a hidden platform in the Morris water maze, and they could also acquire spatial rules in the CMT task. Such results indicated that the visuospatial deficits in PPC lesioned rats were less severe than previously thought. On the other hand, a persistent navigational difficulty characterized by a looping pattern of movement was observed in the PPC lesioned rats in the Morris water maze. Results from the open field indicated that PPC was less involved in audiospatial behaviours. Moreover, results also indicated that PPC was not necessary for spatial CMT. Hence, data from the present study did not support the idea that PPC played an essential role in supramodal spatial abilities in the rats. Instead, data from the spatial CMT task seemed to imply a role of PPC in managing conflicting spatial information coming from different sensory modalities.

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