Dynamic interplays between memory systems depend on practice: the hippocampus is not always the first to provide solution.
Neuroscience. 2007-12-01; 150(4): 743-753
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Previous studies showed that the optimization of behavioral performance through extended training depends on a switch from hippocampus-based memory to striatum-based habit. Here we investigate whether the amount of training within
one learning session influences the retention of memory for hippocampal versus striatal strategies. Mice were trained to search for a submerged cue-marked platform which remained in the same spatial location in the water-maze for each
of three training regimens (4, 12 or 22 trials). Subsequently, they were either tested for retention of memory 1 h or 24 h later on a probe test or killed at different time points over a 7-h period to determine the kinetic of cAMP response element binding protein (CREB) phosphorylation in both memory systems. During the probe test mice had to choose between a submerged platform located in the same position as during the acquisition phase (spatial solution) and a platform marked by the cue but located in the opposite quadrant of the pool (cue-guided solution). Results showed that the animals first preferred the cue-marked platform, which represents a strategy that was selectively impaired by lesions of the dorsolateral caudate-putamen. With further practice, or context pre-exposure, animals transiently favored the hippocampus-dependent place solution but finally, both strategies became interchangeable and insensitive to either lesion. CREB
phosphorylation increased in both memory systems following acquisition but training-dependent changes selectively occurred in the hippocampus wherein biphasic activation was initiated by the four-trial training and blocked by
training for 22 trials. These findings indicate that learning in one session consists of three acquisition stages with parallel engagement of multiple memory systems at the beginning of learning. They suggest, however, that, in a later phase, dynamic interplays promote the use of the most adapted brain system depending on practice and this is accompanied by specific patterns of CREB phosphorylation in the hippocampus.