Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Encoding unchartered territory

28.03.2011
Ensembles of neurons in the brain’s hippocampus inform about future as well as past experiences

When a mammal explores an unfamiliar environment, ensembles of ‘place’ cells in the hippocampus fire individually, recording specific locations in a cognitive map that aid future spatial navigation of the area.

Once the relationship between place cell activity and location has been established, the activity of the cells can be used to predict the animal’s location within its environment. Activity patterns in the ensembles are later ‘replayed’ during rest and sleep, and neuroscientists believe this is important for consolidating the spatial memories of the new environment.

Neuroscientists also contend that the sequence of place cell firing corresponding to the new environment is established during the first exploration of that environment. Now George Dragoi and Susumu Tonegawa from the RIKEN-MIT Center for Neural Circuit Genetics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts, report that the activity of place cell circuits is also preconfigured to encode novel environments[1].

Dragoi and Tonegawa recorded the activity patterns of place cells in the CA1 region of the hippocampus while mice navigated a familiar environment. They also recorded from the same cells afterwards, while the mice rested or slept. As expected, some of the place cell activity patterns they observed corresponded to the familiar environment that the animals had explored, but they also recorded new patterns from place cells that were previously silent.

The researchers found that the novel activity patterns corresponded strongly to the sequences of place cell firing that were recorded when the mice subsequently explored an unfamiliar part of the environment (Fig. 1). This suggests that the activity patterns represent ‘preplay’ of the unexplored locations rather than replay of the familiar part of the environment. Thus, the activity of hippocampal place cells appears not only to consolidate spatial memories of newly experienced environments, but also to predict how novel, unexplored environments can be encoded when they are navigated in the future. The researchers also suggest that hippocampal preplay may accelerate spatial memory formation once the novel environment is eventually explored.

“Encoding of new information makes use of the pre-existing organization of the hippocampal network, and will stabilize faster compared to a case when the neuronal network has to re-organize to a new state that does not resemble the pre-existing one,” says Dragoi. “In an immediate follow-up to this study, we will address the role of the intact hippocampal circuitry in the mechanisms and dynamics of the preplay phenomenon,” he adds.

The corresponding author for this highlight is based at the RIKEN_MIT Center for Neural Circuit Genetics

Journal information

[1] Dragoi, G. & Tonegawa, S. Preplay of future place cell sequences by hippocampal cellular assemblies. Nature 469, 397–401 (2011).

gro-pr | Research asia research news
Further information:
http://www.rikenresearch.riken.jp/eng/research/6550
http://www.researchsea.com

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Cancer diagnosis: no more needles?
25.05.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

nachricht Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found
25.05.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Alternsforschung - Fritz-Lipmann-Institut e.V. (FLI)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Powerful IT security for the car of the future – research alliance develops new approaches

The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.

Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...

Im Focus: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices

A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.

The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Flow probes from the 3D printer

25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering

Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found

25.05.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>