Schemas and memory consolidation, experiments and theory
Monday 07 November 2011
to 15:00 at
Maria Shippi (Institute of Adaptive and Neural Computation, School of Informatics, University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom)
Systems memory consolidation, involves a reorganization of brain circuits where hippocampus dependent memories are stabilized and become hippocampus independent. Traditionally, it has been thought that is a long gradual process. However, recent studies  using a spatial rodent's task, reported that systems memory consolidation occurs quickly, if an associative framework of knowledge into which newly acquired data can be incorporated, has been previously created, known as an associative mental “schema”. It is unclear though, whether the rapid memory consolidation occurs exclusively when memories encoded in the schema, are spatial. Here, we present our preliminary data from our non spatial behavioral task which investigates the existence of non spatial schemas.
Previous studies  showed that while the encoding of the schema requires the hippocampus, the encoding of the additional data in an existing schema requires not only the hippocampus but also specific cortical areas . Based on these results, we present our planned behavioral and inactivation studies to examine possible difference in the communication between the hippocampus and the specific cortical areas during encoding of the schema and the assimilation of additional data, which attempt to provide a possible explanation of the rapid memory consolidation under the schema concept.
Lastly we describe the current leading theoretical frameworks on memory consolidation and explain why they do not address the results from our and previous  studies, which reveal the need of a new theoretical framework. As a consequence, the last part of our research is the development of a biologically relevant theoretical framework which will describe the dialogue between the hippocampus and the cortex during the creation of the schema as well as updating the schema for assimilation of new information.
1. Dorothy Tse, Rosamund F. Langston, Masaki Kakeyama, Ingrid Bethus, Patrick A. Spooner, Emma R. Wood, Menno P. Witter, and Richard G. M. Morris. Schemas and memory consolidation. Science, 316(5821), April 2007
2. Dorothy Tse, Tomonori Takeuchi, Masaki Kakeyama, Yasushi Kajii, Hiroyuki Okuno, Chiharu Tohyama, Haruhiko Bito, Richard G. M. Morris. Schema-Dependent Gene Activation and Memory Encoding in Neocortex. Science, 333 (891), April 2011