Review

Molecular and Cellular Approaches to Memory Allocation in Neural Circuits

Science  16 Oct 2009:
Vol. 326, Issue 5951, pp. 391-395
DOI: 10.1126/science.1174519

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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.

  • Present address: Department of Physiology, Medical College of Qingdao University, Qingdao, China.

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