Spikes, Learning, and Hippocampal Neurons

Science's STKE  10 Jun 2003:
Vol. 2003, Issue 186, pp. tw224-TW224
DOI: 10.1126/stke.2003.186.tw224

What are the patterns of neuronal activity by which memories are established in the brain? An important step in this direction would be the identification of neuronal firing that occurs specifically during encoding and consolidation of memory. Wirth et al. recorded from individual neurons in the monkey hippocampus and found that the activity of cells changed in parallel with the animals' learning of a location-scene association task. In a significant proportion of the cells, changes in activity were sustained after the animal had learned an association, whereas in others the changes were more temporary. These findings show that new associative learning is signaled by changes in a hippocampal neuron's stimulus-selective response properties.

S. Wirth, M. Yanike, L. M. Frank, A. C. Smith, E. N. Brown, W. A. Suzuki, Single neurons in the monkey hippocampus and learning of new associations, Science 300, 1578-1581 (2003). [Abstract] [Full Text]