Temporary inactivation reveals that the CA1 region of the mouse dorsal hippocampus plays an equivalent role in the retrieval of long-term object memory and spatial memory

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Recognition of a previously experienced item or object depends upon the successful retrieval of memory for the object. The neural mechanisms that support object recognition memory in the mammalian brain are not well understood. The rodent hippocampus plays a well-established role in spatial memory, and we previously demonstrated that temporary inactivation of the mouse hippocampus impairs object memory, as assessed with a novel object preference (NOP) test. The present studies were designed to test some remaining issues regarding the contribution of the CA1 sub-region of the mouse dorsal hippocampus to long-term object memory. Specifically, we examined whether the retrieval of spatial memory (as assessed by the Morris water maze; MWM) and object recognition memory are differentially sensitive to inactivation of the CA1 region. The current study used pre-test local microinfusion of muscimol directly into the CA1 region of dorsal hippocampus to temporarily interrupt its function during the respective retrieval phases of both behavioral tasks, in order to compare the contribution of the CA1 to object memory and spatial memory. Histological analyses revealed that local intra-CA1 injection of muscimol diffused within, and not beyond, the CA1 region of dorsal hippocampus. The degree of memory retrieval impairment induced by muscimol was comparable in the two tasks, supporting the view that object memory and spatial memory depend similarly on the CA1 region of rodent hippocampus. Further, we confirmed that the muscimol-induced impairment of CA1 function is temporary. First, mice that exhibited impaired object memory retrieval immediately after intra-CA1 muscimol, subsequently exhibited unimpaired retrieval of object memory when tested 24 h later. Secondly, a cohort of mice that exhibited impaired object memory retrieval after intra-CA1 muscimol later acquired spatial memory in the MWM comparable to that of control mice. Together, these results offer further support for the involvement of the CA1 region of mouse hippocampus in object recognition memory, and provide evidence to suggest that the NOP task is as much a test of hippocampal function as the classic MWM test.

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