Evidence of VTA and LC control of protein synthesis required for the behavioral tagging process

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Several works have shown that the formation of different long-term memories relies on a behavioral tagging process. In other words, to establish a lasting memory, at least two parallel processes must occur: the setting of a learning tag (triggered during learning) that defines where a memory could be stored, and the synthesis of proteins, that once captured at tagged sites will effectively allow the consolidation process to occur. This work focused in studying which brain structures are responsible of controlling the synthesis of those proteins at the brain areas where memory is being stored. It combines electrical activation of the ventral tegmental area (VTA) and/or the locus coeruleus (LC), with local pharmacological interventions and weak and strong behavioral trainings in the inhibitory avoidance and spatial object recognition tasks in rats. The results presented here strongly support the idea that the VTA is a brain structure responsible for regulating the consolidation of memories acting through the D1/D5 dopaminergic receptors of the hippocampus to control the synthesis of new proteins required for this process. Moreover, they provide evidence that the LC may be a second structure with a similar role, acting independently and complementary to the VTA, through the β-adrenergic receptors of the hippocampus.

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