Schema-Dependent Gene Activation and Memory Encoding in Neocortex

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  07 Jul 2011:
DOI: 10.1126/science.1205274


When new learning occurs against the background of established prior knowledge, relevant new information can be assimilated to a schema and so expand the knowledge base. An animal model of this important component of memory consolidation has surprisingly revealed that systems memory consolidation can be very fast. We now report that the hippocampal-dependent learning of new paired-associates is associated with a striking upregulation of immediate early genes in the prelimbic region of the medial prefrontal cortex and that pharmacological interventions targeted at that area can prevent both new learning and the recall of remotely and even recently consolidated information. These findings challenge the concept of distinct fast (hippocampal) and slow (cortical) learning systems, and shed new light on the neural mechanisms of memory assimilation into schemas.