Persistent modifications of hippocampal synaptic function during remote spatial memory

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Abstract

A widely accepted notion for a process underlying memory formation is that learning changes the efficacy of synapses by the mechanism of synaptic plasticity. While there is compelling evidence of changes in synaptic efficacy observed after learning, demonstration of persistent synaptic changes accompanying memory has been elusive. We report that acquisition of a hippocampus and long-term potentiation dependent place memory persistently changes the function of CA1 synapses. Using extracellular recordings we measured CA3-CA1 and EC-CA1 synaptic responses and found robust changes in the CA3-CA1 pathway after memory training. Crucially, these changes in synaptic function lasted at least a month and coincided with the persistence of long-term place memories; the changes were only observed in animals that expressed robust memory, and not in animals with poor memory recall. Interestingly, our findings were observed at the level of populations of synapses; suggesting that memory formation recruits widespread synaptic circuits and persistently reorganizes their function to store information.

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