Charting the Islands of Memory

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Science  21 Feb 2014:
Vol. 343, Issue 6173, pp. 846-847
DOI: 10.1126/science.1251252

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Exquisitely structured microcircuits in the hippocampus and entorhinal cortex (EC) were first sketched more than a century ago by the great Spanish neuroanatomist Ramon y Cajal. It has since become known that these circuits are components of a memory system that allows us to recall facts and past events from our lives. Two reports on pages 891 and 896 of this issue describe newly discovered circuits formed by a population of neurons in the EC, which congregate in distinctive clusters referred to as “patches” by Ray et al. (1) and as “islands” by Kitamura et al. (2). Both studies suggest that these island cells may play important roles in learning and memory.