Contextual fear discrimination is impaired by damage to the postrhinal or perirhinal cortex.
Postrhinal (POR) or perirhinal (PER) cortex damage impairs acquisition and expression of contextual fear, but the nature of the impairment remains unclear. This study used a contextual fear discrimination paradigm that biased subjects toward using a configural, rather than an elemental, strategy to distinguish between 2 contexts, I of which was paired with a mild footshock. Control rats discriminated between 2 contexts when a combination of several cues could be used (Experiment 1), but not when individual sensory cues were manipulated (Experiment 2). Rats with POR or PER lesions could not discriminate between the shock and no-shock contexts when multiple cues differentiated the contexts (Experiment 3). The results indicate that both the POR and PER have a role in configural learning of contextual fear.