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Nat Neurosci. 2019 Oct;22(10):1576-1585. doi: 10.1038/s41593-019-0493-1. Epub 2019 Sep 24.

The neurobiological foundation of memory retrieval.

Frankland PW1,2,3,4,5, Josselyn SA6,7,8,9,10, Köhler S11,12.

Author information

1
Program in Neurosciences & Mental Health, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. paul.frankland@sickkids.ca.
2
Institute of Medical Sciences, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. paul.frankland@sickkids.ca.
3
Department of Psychology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. paul.frankland@sickkids.ca.
4
Department of Physiology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. paul.frankland@sickkids.ca.
5
Child & Brain Development Program, Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. paul.frankland@sickkids.ca.
6
Program in Neurosciences & Mental Health, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
7
Institute of Medical Sciences, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
8
Department of Psychology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
9
Department of Physiology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
10
Brain, Mind & Consciousness Program, Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
11
Department of Psychology, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada. stefank@uwo.ca.
12
The Brain and Mind Institute, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada. stefank@uwo.ca.

Abstract

Memory retrieval involves the interaction between external sensory or internally generated cues and stored memory traces (or engrams) in a process termed 'ecphory'. While ecphory has been examined in human cognitive neuroscience research, its neurobiological foundation is less understood. To the extent that ecphory involves 'reawakening' of engrams, leveraging recently developed technologies that can identify and manipulate engrams in rodents provides a fertile avenue for examining retrieval at the level of neuronal ensembles. Here we evaluate emerging neuroscientific research of this type, using cognitive theory as a guiding principle to organize and interpret initial findings. Our Review highlights the critical interaction between engrams and retrieval cues (environmental or artificial) for memory accessibility and retrieval success. These findings also highlight the intimate relationship between the mechanisms important in forming engrams and those important in their recovery, as captured in the cognitive notion of 'encoding specificity'. Finally, we identify several questions that currently remain unanswered.

PMID:
31551594
DOI:
10.1038/s41593-019-0493-1
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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