Lesions of the entorhinal cortex in humans, monkeys, and rats impair memory for a variety of kinds of information, including memory for objects and places. To begin to understand the contribution of entorhinal cells to different forms of memory, responses of entorhinal cells were recorded as monkeys performed either an object or place memory task. The object memory task was a variation of delayed matching to sample. A sample picture was presented at the start of the trial, followed by a variable sequence of zero to four test pictures, ending with a repetition of the sample (i.e., a match). The place memory task was a variation of delayed matching to place. In this task, a cue stimulus was presented at a variable sequence of one to four 'places' on a computer screen, ending with a repetition of one of the previously shown places (i.e., a match). For both tasks, the animals were rewarded for releasing a bar to the match. To solve these tasks, the monkey must 1) discriminate the stimuli, 2) maintain a memory of the appropriate stimuli during the course of the trial, and 3) evaluate whether a test stimulus matches previously presented stimuli. The responses of entorhinal cortex neurons were consistent with a role in all three of these processes in both tasks. We found that 47% and 55% of the visually responsive entorhinal cells responded selectively to the different objects or places presented during the object or place task, respectively. Similar to previous findings in prefrontal but not perirhinal cortex on the object task, some entorhinal cells had sample-specific delay activity that was maintained throughout all of the delay intervals in the sequence. For the place task, some cells had location-specific maintained activity in the delay immediately following a specific cue location. In addition, 59% and 22% of the visually responsive cells recorded during the object and place task, respectively, responded differently to the test stimuli according to whether they were matching or nonmatching to the stimuli held in memory. Responses of some cells were enhanced to matching stimuli, whereas others were suppressed. This suppression or enhancement typically occurred well before the animals' behavioral response, suggesting that this information could be used to perform the task. These results indicate that entorhinal cells receive sensory information about both objects and spatial locations and that their activity carries information about objects and locations held in short-term memory.
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