Memory-Enhancing Amygdala Stimulation Elicits Gamma Synchrony in the Hippocampus

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Activation of the amygdala either during emotional arousal or by direct stimulation is thought to enhance memory in part by modulating plasticity in the hippocampus. However, precisely how the amygdala influences hippocampal activity to improve memory remains unclear. In the present study, brief electrical stimulation delivered to the basolateral complex of the amygdala (BLA) following encounters with some novel objects led to better memory for those objects 1 day later. Stimulation also elicited field-field and spike-field CA3-CA1 synchrony in the hippocampus in the low gamma frequency range (30–55 Hz), a range previously associated with spike timing and good memory. In addition, the hippocampal spiking patterns observed during BLA stimulation reflected recent patterns of activity in the hippocampus. Thus, the results indicate that amygdala activation can prioritize memory consolidation of specific object encounters by coordinating the precise timing of CA1 membrane depolarization with incoming CA3 spikes to initiate long-lasting spike-timing dependent plasticity at putative synapses between recently active neurons.

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