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Nat Neurosci. 2017 Feb;20(2):242-250. doi: 10.1038/nn.4472. Epub 2017 Jan 9.

Separate elements of episodic memory subserved by distinct hippocampal-prefrontal connections.

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School of Physiology, Pharmacology and Neuroscience, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK.
School of Clinical Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK.
Oxford BioMedica (UK) Ltd Medawar Centre, Oxford, UK.


Episodic memory formation depends on information about a stimulus being integrated within a precise spatial and temporal context, a process dependent on the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. Investigations of putative functional interactions between these regions are complicated by multiple direct and indirect hippocampal-prefrontal connections. Here application of a pharmacogenetic deactivation technique enabled us to investigate the mnemonic contributions of two direct hippocampal-medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) pathways, one arising in the dorsal CA1 (dCA1) and the other in the intermediate CA1 (iCA1). While deactivation of either pathway impaired episodic memory, the resulting pattern of mnemonic deficits was different: deactivation of the dCA1→mPFC pathway selectively disrupted temporal order judgments while iCA1→mPFC pathway deactivation disrupted spatial memory. These findings reveal a previously unsuspected division of function among CA1 neurons that project directly to the mPFC. Such subnetworks may enable the distinctiveness of contextual information to be maintained in an episodic memory circuit.

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