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J Neurosci. 2010 Feb 3;30(5):1610-8. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2721-09.2010.

Dopamine and memory: modulation of the persistence of memory for novel hippocampal NMDA receptor-dependent paired associates.

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  • 1Laboratory for Cognitive Neuroscience, Centre for Cognitive and Neural Systems, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH8 9JZ, United Kingdom. ingrid.bethus@ed.ac.uk


Three experiments investigated the role in memory processing of dopamine (DA) afferents to the hippocampus (HPC) that arise from the ventral tegmental area. One hypothesis is that D(1)/D(5) receptor activation in HPC is necessary for the encoding of novel, episodic-like information; the other is that DA activation ensures the greater temporal persistence of transient hippocampal memory traces. Rats (n = 35) were trained, in separate experiments using an episodic-like memory task, to learn six paired associates (PAs) in an "event arena" involving a repeated association between specific flavors of food and locations in space. After 6 weeks of training, rats had learned a "schema" such that two new paired associates could be acquired in a single trial in one session (episodic-like memory). We show that encoding of novel PAs is sensitive to intrahippocampal microinfusion of the NMDA antagonist d-AP-5. Experiment 1 established that intrahippocampal infusion of the D(1)/D(5) dopaminergic antagonist SCH23390 [R(+)-7-chloro-8-hydroxy-3-methyl-1-phenyl-2,3,4,5-tetrahydro-1H-3-benzazepine hydrochloride] before encoding of new PAs caused impaired memory 24 h later but that SCH23390 had no effect on the later memory of previously established PAs. Experiment 2 established that SCH23390 modulated the persistence of new memories over time (30 min vs 24 h) rather than affecting initial encoding. Experiment 3 revealed that the impact of SCH23390 was not mediated by state dependence nor had an effect on memory retrieval. These findings support the second hypothesis and establish that persistent, long-term memory of rapid, hippocampal-mediated acquisition of new paired associates requires activation of D(1)/D(5) receptors in HPC at or around the time of encoding.

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