Septohippocampal Pathways Contribute to System Consolidation of a Spatial Memory: Sequential Implication of GABAergic and Cholinergic Neurons

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Studies of the neuropharmacological substrates of spatial memory formation have focused on the contribution of septohippocampal pathways. Although these pathways include, among others, cholinergic and GABAergic fibers innervating the hippocampus, research has essentially been oriented towards the role of their cholinergic component. Recently, a few studies investigated the role of GABAergic septohippocampal projections. These only focused on almost immediate or recent memory and yielded discrepant results. GABAergic lesions impaired learning or had no effects. Given the role of the hippocampus in memory consolidation and the potential modulatory influence of the septum on hippocampal function, it is relevant to study the role of the septohippocampal interface in memory stabilization. We performed investigations with relatively selective lesions of GABAergic (using oxerin-saporin) or/and cholinergic (using 192 IgG-saporin) medial septum/vertical limb of the diagonal band of Broca (MS/vDBB) neurons in rats, and assessed acquisition of a spatial memory and its subsequent recall in the water maze. Following a 6-day training phase during which all groups improved performance to comparable levels, retention was tested 1, 5, or 25 days later. At the 1-day delay, all groups performed above chance and did not differ significantly among each other. At the 5-day delay, only rats with GABAergic or combined lesions exhibited a retention deficit. At the 25-day delay, all three lesion groups performed at chance level; in these groups, performance was significantly lower than that found in sham-operated rats. Immunochemical and histochemical verifications of the lesion extent/selectivity showed extensive GABAergic damage after intraseptal orexin-saporin infusions or cholinergic damage after 192 IgG-saporin infusions, with relatively limited damage to the other neurotransmitter system. Our data show that GABAergic and cholinergic septohippocampal neurons both contribute to memory stabilization, and could do so in a sequential way: GABAergic processes could be engaged at an earlier stage than cholinergic ones during system consolidation of a spatial memory. © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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