Memory Maps in the Brain

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Science  07 Jan 2000:
Vol. 287, Issue 5450, pp. 13
DOI: 10.1126/science.287.5450.13c

How the hippocampus records events as long- and short-term memories is still a matter of debate. In particular, it is not known how the firing of different groups of neurons in the hippocampus in response to incoming sensory information results in the encoding of this information. Now, Hampson et al. report that hippocampal neurons can be segregated into groups that encode different aspects of short-term memories. Using a panel of eight pairs of microwire electrodes, they recorded hippocampal neuron activity as the animals performed a multistep spatial task that was dependent on short-term memory. They classified 243 neurons (from 23 rats) into four groups according to when they started to fire during the spatial task, and then looked at the hippocampal locations of the groups. They found that the groups were arranged in a longitudinal pattern in the hippocampus and that interspersed between them were other sets of neurons that were active during the non-spatial aspects of the task, indicative of an anatomical representation of both spatial and non-spatial information.—OMS

Nature402, 610 (1999).


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