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A persistent cellular change in a single modulatory neuron contributes to associative long-term memory
journal contributionposted on 2023-06-08, 00:41 authored by Nicholas G Jones, Ildiko KemenesIldiko Kemenes, George KemenesGeorge Kemenes, Paul R Benjamin
Most neuronal models of learning assume that changes in synaptic strength are the main mechanism underlying long-term memory (LTM) formation . However, we show here that a persistent depolarization of membrane potential, a type of cellular change that increases neuronal responsiveness, contributes significantly to a long-lasting associative memory trace. The use of a model invertebrate network with identified neurons and known synaptic connectivity had the advantage that the contribution of this cellular change to memory could be evaluated in a neuron with a known function in the learning circuit. Specifically, we used the well-understood motor circuit underlying molluscan feeding [2-4] and showed that a key modulatory neuron involved in the initiation of feeding ingestive movements  underwent a long-term depolarization following behavioral associative conditioning . This depolarization led to an enhanced single cell and network responsiveness to a previously neutral tactile conditioned stimulus, and the persistence of both matched the time course of behavioral associative memory. The change in the membrane potential of a key modulatory neuron is both sufficient and necessary to initiate a conditioned response in a reduced preparation and underscores its importance for associative LTM.
PublisherElsevier (Cell Press)
Department affiliated with
- Neuroscience Publications
NotesThe first author was my graduate student, the second a postdoctoral RA on my grant and the third my Sussex collaborator. I was the main electrophysiologist on the project and the chief intellectual contributor to the paper. I contributed 70% of the effort required for the writing of the paper.
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