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Science 326 (5951): 391-395

Copyright © 2009 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Molecular and Cellular Approaches to Memory Allocation in Neural Circuits

Alcino J. Silva,* Yu Zhou,{dagger} Thomas Rogerson, Justin Shobe, J. Balaji

Abstract: Although memory allocation is a subject of active research in computer science, little is known about how the brain allocates information within neural circuits. There is an extensive literature on how specific types of memory engage different parts of the brain, and how neurons in these regions process and store information. Until recently, however, the mechanisms that determine how specific cells and synapses within a neural circuit (and not their neighbors) are recruited during learning have received little attention. Recent findings suggest that memory allocation is not random, but rather specific mechanisms regulate where information is stored within a neural circuit. New methods that allow tagging, imaging, activation, and inactivation of neurons in behaving animals promise to revolutionize studies of brain circuits, including memory allocation. Results from these studies are likely to have a considerable impact on computer science, as well as on the understanding of memory and its disorders.

Departments of Neurobiology, Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, Psychology and the Brain Research Institute, University of California, Los Angeles, 695 Charles Young Drive South, Los Angeles, CA 90095–1761, USA.

{dagger} Present address: Department of Physiology, Medical College of Qingdao University, Qingdao, China.

* To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: silvaa{at}

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