Network oscillatory activity driven by context memory processing is differently regulated by glutamatergic and cholinergic neurotransmission

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Abstract

Memory retrieval requires coordinated intra- and inter-regional activity in networks of brain structures. Dysfunction of these networks and memory impairment are seen in many psychiatric disorders, but relatively little is known about how memory retrieval and memory failure are represented at the level of local and regional oscillatory activity. To address this question, we measured local field potentials (LFPs) from mice as they explored a novel context, retrieved memories for contextual fear conditioning, and after administration of two amnestic agents: the NMDA receptor antagonist MK-801 and muscarinic acetylcholine receptor antagonist scopolamine (SCOP). LFPs were simultaneously recorded from retrosplenial cortex (RSC), dorsal hippocampus (DH), and anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), which are involved in processing contextual memories, and analyzed for changes in intra-regional power and inter-regional peak coherence of oscillations across multiple frequency bands. Context encoding and memory retrieval sessions yielded similar patterns of changes across all three structures, including decreased delta power and increased theta peak coherence. Baseline effects of MK-801 and SCOP were primarily targeted to gamma oscillations, but in opposite directions. Both drugs also blocked memory retrieval, as indicated by reduced freezing when mice were returned to the conditioning context, but this common behavioral impairment was only associated with power and peak coherence disruptions after MK-801 treatment. These findings point to neural signatures for memory impairment, whose underlying mechanisms may serve as therapeutic targets for related psychiatric disorders.

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