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Fast track to the neocortex: A memory engram in the posterior parietal cortex

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Science  30 Nov 2018:
Vol. 362, Issue 6418, pp. 1045-1048
DOI: 10.1126/science.aau2528

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Memories reach the cortex rapidly

How fast do learning-induced anatomical changes occur in the brain? The traditional view postulates that neocortical memory representations reflect reinstatement processes initiated by the hippocampus and that a genuine physical trace develops only through reactivation over extended periods. Brodt et al. combined functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with diffusion-weighted MRI during an associative declarative learning task to examine experience-dependent structural brain plasticity in human subjects (see the Perspective by Assaf). This plasticity was rapidly induced after learning, persisted for more than 12 hours, drove behavior, and was localized in areas displaying memory-related functional brain activity. These plastic changes in the posterior parietal cortex, and their fast temporal dynamics, challenge traditional views of systems memory consolidation.

Science, this issue p. 1045; see also p. 994