When is adult hippocampal neurogenesis necessary for learning? evidence from animal research.
ABSTRACT The hippocampus is a key brain structure involved in the short- and long-term processing of declarative memory. Since adult hippocampal neurogenesis was first found, numerous studies have tried to establish the contribution of newborn neurons to hippocampus-dependent cognitive functions. However, this large amount of research has generated contradictory results. In this paper, we review the body of evidence investigating the relationship between hippocampal neurogenesis and learning to conclude the functional role of adult-born hippocampal neurons. First, factors that could explain discrepancies among experiments are taken into account. Then, in addition to methodological differences, we emphasize the importance of the age of the newborn neurons studied, as to how their maturation influences both their properties and potential functionality. Next, we discuss which declarative memory components could require involvement of adult hippocampal neurogenesis, taking into consideration the representational demands of the task, its difficulty and the level of performance reached by the subject. Finally, other factors that could modulate neurogenesis and memory, such as stress levels or previous experience of the animal, should also be taken into consideration in interpreting experiments focused on neurogenesis. In conclusion, our analysis of published studies suggests that new adult-born neurons, under certain circumstances, have a crucial and irreplaceable role in hippocampal learning.
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ABSTRACT: Recently, gene targeting and other mouse transgenic techniques have been used to study the cellular mechanisms underlying learning and memory mechanisms in the hippocampus. A key assumption of many of these studies is that lesions of the hippocampus have a similar impact on learning and memory in mice and in rats. Here, we used axon-sparing ibotenate lesions to determine whether damage to the hippocampus disrupts spatial learning and contextual conditioning in mice, as it is known to do in rats. Our results demonstrated that hippocampal lesions impair performance in the hidden-platform version of the water maze under a variety of experimental conditions. Neither keeping the start site constant, nor prior training with the visible-platform task fully rescued the spatial learning deficits of the lesioned mice. As previously shown in rats, the lesions left the performance of the mice intact in the visible-platform version of the water maze, indicating that they do not affect all types of learning, and that disruptions of sensory processing or motivation probably did not account for their deficits in the hidden-platform task. In contrast, the very same lesions did not affect either cued or contextual fear conditioning. These results confirm the involvement of the hippocampus in spatial learning in mice, and they also demonstrate that hippocampal-lesioned mice can show contextual fear conditioning. Thus, the behavioral findings presented here are crucial for the interpretation of transgenic experiments with the widely used water maze and fear-conditioning paradigms.Behavioural Brain Research 02/1999; 98(1):77-87. · 3.33 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Adult neurogenesis in the hippocampus continues throughout life and may play an important role in hippocampus-dependent learning and memory. Previous research has been equivocal, demonstrating that spatial learning may enhance, decrease or not significantly affect the survival of new neurons. A potential cause of these varying results may be differences in when bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) was administered relative to spatial training. We examined whether the time elapsed between BrdU administration and spatial learning would alter the survival of the labeled cells. We injected rats with BrdU once on day 0 and then trained in the standard place version of the Morris water task on days 1-5, 6-10 or 11-15 after BrdU injection. We found an enhancement of neurogenesis in the hippocampus only when BrdU was administered 6 days prior to the beginning of spatial training. There was no significant change in hippocampal neurogenesis for groups that started training either 1 or 11 days following BrdU administration. This suggests that a critical period exists in the development of new neurons during which time their survival may be altered by activation of the hippocampus. Furthermore, when dividing rats into poor versus good learners based on overall performance using a median split, only poor place learners and not good place learners exhibit increased hippocampal neurogenesis compared with cue learning, collapsed across time of training. These findings provide further evidence of a link between learning and adult neurogenesis.Neuroscience 11/2007; 149(2):273-85. · 3.12 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The hippocampal dentate gyrus maintains its capacity to generate new neurons throughout life. In animal models, hippocampal neurogenesis is increased by cognitive tasks, and experimental ablation of neurogenesis disrupts specific modalities of learning and memory. In humans, the impact of neurogenesis on cognition remains unclear. Here, we assessed the neurogenic potential in the human hippocampal dentate gyrus by isolating adult human neural stem cells from 23 surgical en bloc hippocampus resections. After proliferation of the progenitor cell pool in vitro we identified two distinct patterns. Adult human neural stem cells with a high proliferation capacity were obtained in 11 patients. Most of the cells in the high proliferation capacity cultures were capable of neuronal differentiation (53 ± 13% of in vitro cell population). A low proliferation capacity was observed in 12 specimens, and only few cells differentiated into neurons (4 ± 2%). This was reflected by reduced numbers of proliferating cells in vivo as well as granule cells immunoreactive for doublecortin, brain-derived neurotrophic factor and cyclin-dependent kinase 5 in the low proliferation capacity group. High and low proliferation capacity groups differed dramatically in declarative memory tasks. Patients with high proliferation capacity stem cells had a normal memory performance prior to epilepsy surgery, while patients with low proliferation capacity stem cells showed severe learning and memory impairment. Histopathological examination revealed a highly significant correlation between granule cell loss in the dentate gyrus and the same patient's regenerative capacity in vitro (r = 0.813; P < 0.001; linear regression: R²(adjusted) = 0.635), as well as the same patient's ability to store and recall new memories (r = 0.966; P = 0.001; linear regression: R²(adjusted) = 0.9). Our results suggest that encoding new memories is related to the regenerative capacity of the hippocampus in the human brain.Brain 11/2010; 133(11):3359-72. · 9.92 Impact Factor