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The Role of the Medial Prefrontal Cortex and Parietal Cortex in Memory and Spatial Navigation in the Traveling Salesperson Problem

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The Traveling Salesperson Problem (TSP) is an optimization problem that requires subjects to identify the shortest route to travel from a starting to ending point, while visiting a certain number of targets. This task has been used in animal models, such as rats, to examine spatial memory and decision making while performing naturalistic foraging behaviors. Previous results from our lab have found that rats with hippocampal lesions are impaired across many different measures and spatial configurations in the TSP task, specifically on measures of spatial memory. Given the various cognitive demands of this naturalistic task, our lab was interested in examining the involvement of neocortical regions in rat performance. We conducted an extensive review of the literature examining the roles that the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and parietal cortex (PC) may play in solving the TSP task. Various studies have found that the mPFC is essential for certain spatial and nonspatial cognitive processes, such as decision making, and aiding in both efficient and effective performance on tasks such as the delayed alternation task. These findings suggest this brain region monitors behavior to minimize mistakes and maximize rewards. Studies have also suggested that the PC is involved in visuospatial planning and spatial navigation across various spatial tasks. Our literature review presents the findings and results of a thorough examination of the functions of the mPFC and PC and provides a proposal for further examining the involvement of each region in the performance of rats on the TSP task.

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The Role of the Medial Prefrontal Cortex and Parietal Cortex in Memory and Spatial Navigation in the Traveling Salesperson Problem

The Traveling Salesperson Problem (TSP) is an optimization problem that requires subjects to identify the shortest route to travel from a starting to ending point, while visiting a certain number of targets. This task has been used in animal models, such as rats, to examine spatial memory and decision making while performing naturalistic foraging behaviors. Previous results from our lab have found that rats with hippocampal lesions are impaired across many different measures and spatial configurations in the TSP task, specifically on measures of spatial memory. Given the various cognitive demands of this naturalistic task, our lab was interested in examining the involvement of neocortical regions in rat performance. We conducted an extensive review of the literature examining the roles that the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and parietal cortex (PC) may play in solving the TSP task. Various studies have found that the mPFC is essential for certain spatial and nonspatial cognitive processes, such as decision making, and aiding in both efficient and effective performance on tasks such as the delayed alternation task. These findings suggest this brain region monitors behavior to minimize mistakes and maximize rewards. Studies have also suggested that the PC is involved in visuospatial planning and spatial navigation across various spatial tasks. Our literature review presents the findings and results of a thorough examination of the functions of the mPFC and PC and provides a proposal for further examining the involvement of each region in the performance of rats on the TSP task.