Engram cells retain memory under retrograde amnesia

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Science  29 May 2015:
Vol. 348, Issue 6238, pp. 1007-1013
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa5542

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  • Convergence of architectures in the brain and big data

    Kitamura et al.'s report, "Engrams and circuits crucial for systems consolidation of a memory" (7 April 2017) describes an unexpected rapid generation of memory engram neurons in the prefrontal cortex during contextual fear conditioning. These neurons then mature slowly over time with input from the hippocampus. This finding suggests that information is not just incrementally moved from the hippocampus to the prefrontal cortex, as previously thought. Instead, there appears to be a fast initial write of data to the prefrontal cortex, followed by a slower process that results in a more stable engram.

    These observations of a two-speed process for saving data are similar to a massive data processing system deployed for analysis of large data sets known as "lambda architecture" (LA; Marz, 2011). LA utilizes a fast speed processing layer for low latency, transient storage and a slower batch layer for fault-tolerant, robust updates and longer lasting storage. A key criticism of LA has been that it is difficult to keep the two different processes synchronized (Kreps, 2014). One easy way to facilitate synchronization of the systems is to stop receiving data inputs during merging of the data from the two layers. Although this solution is impractical for big data analytics, it may have been deployed biologically as rapid eye movement sleep, which is both involved in memory consolidation and marked by an effective shut down of most sensory inputs. Exami...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.