Author(s): Dash PK, Hebert AE, Runyan JD
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Abstract The time-limited role of the hippocampus for explicit memory storage has been referred to as systems consolidation where learning-related changes occur first in the hippocampus followed by the gradual development of a more distributed memory trace in the neocortex. Recent experiments are beginning to show that learning induces plasticity-related molecular changes in the neocortex as well as in the hippocampus and with a similar time course. Present memory consolidation theories do not account for these findings. In this report, we present a theory (the C theory) that incorporates these new findings, provides an explanation for the length of time for hippocampal dependency, and that can account for the apparent longer consolidation periods in species with larger brains. This theory proposes that a process of cellular consolidation occurs in the hippocampus and in areas of the neocortex during and shortly after learning resulting in long-term memory storage in both areas. For a limited time, the hippocampus is necessary for memory retrieval, a process involving the coordinated reactivation of these areas. This reactivation is later mediated by longer extrahippocampal connectivity between areas. The delay in hippocampal-independent memory retrieval is the time it takes for gene products in these longer extrahippocampal projections to be transported from the soma to tagged synapses by slow axonal transport. This cellular transport event defines the period of hippocampal dependency and, thus, the duration of memory consolidation. The theoretical description for memory consolidation presented in this review provides alternative explanations for several experimental observations and presents a unification of the concepts of systems and cellular memory consolidation.
This article was published in Brain Res Brain Res Rev
and referenced in Journal of Clinical & Experimental Cardiology