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Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2011 Mar;95(3):286-95. doi: 10.1016/j.nlm.2010.12.004. Epub 2010 Dec 13.

Consolidation and long-term retention of an implanted behavioral memory.

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Center for Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697-3800, USA.


Hypothesized circuitry enabling information storage can be tested by attempting to implant memory directly in the brain in the absence of normal experience. Previously, we found that tone paired with activation of the cholinergic nucleus basalis (NB) does induce behavioral memory that shares cardinal features with natural memory; it is associative, highly specific, rapidly formed, consolidates and shows intermediate retention. Here we determine if implanted memory also exhibits long-term consolidation and retention. Adult male rats were first tested for behavioral responses (disruption of ongoing respiration) to tones (1-15 kHz), yielding pre-training behavioral frequency generalization gradients. They next received 3 days of training with a conditioned stimulus (CS) tone (8.0 kHz, 70 dB, 2s) either paired (n=7) or unpaired (n=6) with moderate electrical stimulation of the nucleus basalis (∼ 65 μA, 100 Hz, 0.2s, co-terminating with CS offset). Testing for long-term retention was performed by obtaining post-training behavioral frequency generalization gradients 24h and 2 weeks after training. At 24h post-training, the Paired group exhibited specific associative behavioral memory, manifested by larger responses to the CS frequency band than the Unpaired group. This memory was retained 2 weeks post-training. Moreover, 2 weeks later, the specificity and magnitude of memory had become greater, indicating that the implanted memory had undergone consolidation. Overall, the results demonstrate the validity of NB-implanted memory for understanding natural memory and that activation of the cholinergic nucleus basalis is sufficient to form natural associative memory.

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