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Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2019 Feb;54:163-170. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2018.10.013. Epub 2018 Nov 10.

Neuronal competition: microcircuit mechanisms define the sparsity of the engram.

Author information

1
Dept. of Molecular and Cellular Neurobiology, Center for Neurogenomics and Cognitive Research, Amsterdam Neuroscience, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
2
Program in Neurosciences & Mental Health, Hospital for Sick Children, 555 University Ave. Toronto, ON, M5G 1X8, Canada; Dept. of Physiology, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, M5G 1X8, Canada.
3
Dept. of Psychiatry, Erasmus MC University Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Electronic address: s.kushner@erasmusmc.nl.
4
Program in Neurosciences & Mental Health, Hospital for Sick Children, 555 University Ave. Toronto, ON, M5G 1X8, Canada; Dept. of Physiology, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, M5G 1X8, Canada; Dept. of Psychology, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, M5G 1X8, Canada; Institute of Medical Sciences, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, M5G 1X8, Canada; Brain, Mind & Consciousness Program, Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR), Toronto, Ontario M5G 1M1, Canada. Electronic address: Sheena.Josselyn@SickKids.ca.

Abstract

Extensive work in computational modeling has highlighted the advantages for employing sparse yet distributed data representation and storage Kanerva (1998), properties that extend to neuronal networks encoding mnemonic information (memory traces or engrams). While neurons that participate in an engram are distributed across multiple brain regions, within each region, the cellular sparsity of the mnemonic representation appears to be quite fixed. Although technological advances have enabled significant progress in identifying and manipulating engrams, relatively little is known about the region-dependent microcircuit rules governing the cellular sparsity of an engram. Here we review recent studies examining the mechanisms that help shape engram architecture and examine how these processes may regulate memory function. We speculate that countervailing forces in local microcircuits contribute to the generation and maintenance of engrams and discuss emerging questions regarding how engrams are formed, stored and used.

PMID:
30423499
DOI:
10.1016/j.conb.2018.10.013

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