Dopamine Controls Persistence of Long-Term Memory Storage

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Science  21 Aug 2009:
Vol. 325, Issue 5943, pp. 1017-1020
DOI: 10.1126/science.1172545

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The paradigmatic feature of long-term memory (LTM) is its persistence. However, little is known about the mechanisms that make some LTMs last longer than others. In rats, a long-lasting fear LTM vanished rapidly when the D1 dopamine receptor antagonist SCH23390 was injected into the dorsal hippocampus 12 hours, but not immediately or 9 hours, after the fearful experience. Conversely, intrahippocampal application of the D1 agonist SK38393 at the same critical post-training time converted a rapidly decaying fear LTM into a persistent one. This effect was mediated by brain-derived neurotrophic factor and regulated by the ventral tegmental area (VTA). Thus, the persistence of LTM depends on activation of VTA/hippocampus dopaminergic connections and can be specifically modulated by manipulating this system at definite post-learning time points.

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