Spatial Memory Engram in the Mouse Retrosplenial Cortex

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Authors Michal M. Milczarek, Seralynne D. Vann, Frank Sengpiel
Journal/Conference Name Current Biology
Paper Category
Paper Abstract Memory relies on lasting adaptations of neuronal properties elicited by stimulus-driven plastic changes [1]. The strengthening (and weakening) of synapses results in the establishment of functional ensembles. It is presumed that such ensembles (or engrams) are activated during memory acquisition and re-activated upon memory retrieval. The retrosplenial cortex (RSC) has emerged as a key brain area supporting memory [2], including episodic and topographical memory in humans [3, 4, 5], as well as spatial memory in rodents [6, 7]. Dysgranular RSC is densely connected with dorsal stream visual areas [8] and contains place-like and head-direction cells, making it a prime candidate for integrating navigational information [9]. While previous reports [6, 10] describe the recruitment of RSC ensembles during navigational tasks, such ensembles have never been tracked long enough to provide evidence of stable engrams and have not been related to the retention of long-term memory. Here, we used in vivo 2-photon imaging to analyze patterns of activity of over 6,000 neurons within dysgranular RSC. Eight mice were trained on a spatial memory task. Learning was accompanied by the gradual emergence of a context-specific pattern of neuronal activity over a 3-week period, which was re-instated upon retrieval more than 3 weeks later. The stability of this memory engram was predictive of the degree of forgetting; more stable engrams were associated with better performance. This provides direct evidence for the interdependence of spatial memory consolidation and RSC engram formation. Our results demonstrate the participation of RSC in spatial memory storage at the level of neuronal ensembles.
Date of publication 2018
Code Programming Language Matlab
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