Research Article

Brainstem nucleus incertus controls contextual memory formation

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Science  24 May 2019:
Vol. 364, Issue 6442, eaaw0445
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaw0445

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What inhibits the inhibitors?

In the hippocampus, each memory trace is encoded by a specific subset of pyramidal cells. The other pyramidal cells must be actively excluded from the memory encoding process by inhibition, which is done by selective dendrite-targeting interneurons. Szőnyi et al. found that γ-aminobutyric acid–releasing (GABAergic) cells located in a small region in the brain stem called the nucleus incertus project to the hippocampus. The nucleus incertus again is innervated by several regions that respond to salient stimuli. Its GABAergic cells preferentially inhibit the dendrite-targeting interneurons in the hippocampus. The nucleus incertus is thus a central mediator between brain regions that are highly responsive to salient stimuli and the hippocampal circuitry involved in memory formation.

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