Professor Rebecca Burwell
Department of Cognitive, Linguistic and Psychological Sciences
Parahippocampal connections with posterior parietal cortex and the thalamus are well documented for the rodent and primate brains, but there are many open questions about the functions of these circuits. In the rodent brain, the postrhinal cortex, posterior parietal cortex , and the lateral posterior nucleus of the thalamus (LPO) are robustly interconnected. Similar patterns of connectivity are evident in the primate parahippocampal cortex (postrhinal homolog), posterior parietal cortex, and the pulvinar (LPO homolog). We used neuroanatomical tracing in combination with electrophysiology and optogenetic manipulations in behaving rats to address the function of the posterior parietal cortex in this circuit. I will present evidence that both the posterior parietal cortex and the LPO are important for translating visual information into appropriate behavioral actions. I will also show functional differentiation in the rat posterior parietal cortex such that dorsal and caudal subdivisions contribute differently to stimulus driven attention. These findings have implications for the role of the posterior parietal cortex in memory and other cognitive functions.