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Neuronal Competition and Selection During Memory Formation

Science  20 Apr 2007:
Vol. 316, Issue 5823, pp. 457-460
DOI: 10.1126/science.1139438

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Abstract

Competition between neurons is necessary for refining neural circuits during development and may be important for selecting the neurons that participate in encoding memories in the adult brain. To examine neuronal competition during memory formation, we conducted experiments with mice in which we manipulated the function of CREB (adenosine 3′,5′-monophosphate response element–binding protein) in subsets of neurons. Changes in CREB function influenced the probability that individual lateral amygdala neurons were recruited into a fear memory trace. Our results suggest a competitive model underlying memory formation, in which eligible neurons are selected to participate in a memory trace as a function of their relative CREB activity at the time of learning.

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