ABSTRACT In this issue of Neuron, MacDonald et al. describe hippocampal "time cells" that fire during specific delay periods as rats performed a memory task. Converging results in monkeys suggest that the hippocampus encodes episodes by signaling events in time.
SourceAvailable from: Cornelis (Kees) Mulder[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Time-place learning (TPL) offers the possibility to study the functional interaction between cognition and the circadian system with aging. With TPL, animals link biological significant events with the location and the time of day. This what-where-when type of memory provides animals with an experience-based daily schedule. Mice were tested for TPL five times throughout their lifespan and showed (re)learning from below chance level at the age of 4, 7, 12, and 18 mo. In contrast, at the age of 22 mo these mice showed preservation of TPL memory (absence of memory loss), together with deficiencies in the ability to update time-of-day information. Conversely, the majority of untrained (naïve) mice at 17 mo of age were unable to acquire TPL, indicating that training had delayed TPL deficiencies in the mice trained over lifespan. Two out of seven naïve mice, however, compensated for correct performance loss by adapting an alternative learning strategy that is independent of the age-deteriorating circadian system and presumably less cognitively demanding. Together, these data show the age-sensitivity of TPL, and the positive effects of repeated training over a lifetime. In addition, these data shed new light on aging-related loss of behavioral flexibility to update time-of-day information. © 2015 Mulder et al.; Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.Learning & memory (Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y.) 05/2015; 22(5):278-288. DOI:10.1101/lm.037440 · 4.38 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: During Time-Place Learning (TPL), animals link biological significant events (e.g. encountering predators, food, mates) with the location and time of occurrence in the environment. This allows animals to anticipate which locations to visit or avoid based on previous experience and knowledge of the current time of day. The TPL task applied in this study consists of three daily sessions in a three-arm maze, with a food reward at the end of each arm. During each session, mice should avoid one specific arm to avoid a foot-shock. We previously demonstrated that, rather than using external cue-based strategies, mice use an internal clock (circadian strategy) for TPL, referred to as circadian TPL (cTPL). It is unknown in which brain region(s) or peripheral organ(s) the consulted clock underlying cTPL resides. Three candidates were examined in this study: (a) the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), a light entrainable oscillator (LEO) and considered the master circadian clock in the brain, (b) the food entrainable oscillator (FEO), entrained by restricted food availability, and (c) the adrenal glands, harboring an important peripheral oscillator. cTPL performance should be affected if the underlying oscillator system is abruptly phase-shifted. Therefore, we first investigated cTPL sensitivity to abrupt light and food shifts. Next we investigated cTPL in SCN-lesioned- and adrenalectomized mice. Abrupt FEO phase-shifts (induced by advancing and delaying feeding time) affected TPL performance in specific test sessions while a LEO phase-shift (induced by a light pulse) more severely affected TPL performance in all three daily test sessions. SCN-lesioned mice showed no TPL deficiencies compared to SHAM-lesioned mice. Moreover, both SHAM- and SCN-lesioned mice showed unaffected cTPL performance when re-tested after bilateral adrenalectomy. We conclude that, although cTPL is sensitive to timing manipulations with light as well as food, neither the SCN nor the adrenals are required for cTPL in mice.Chronobiology International 08/2014; DOI:10.3109/07420528.2014.944975 · 2.88 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Episodic memory includes information about how long ago specific events occurred. Since most of our experiences have overlapping elements, remembering this temporal context is crucial for distinguishing individual episodes. The discovery of timing signals in hippocampal neurons, including evidence of "time cells" and of gradual changes in ensemble activity over long timescales, strongly suggests that the hippocampus is important for this capacity. However, behavioral evidence that the hippocampus is critical for the memory of elapsed time is lacking. This is possibly because previous studies have used time durations in the range of seconds when assessing hippocampal dependence, a timescale known to require corticostriatal circuits. Here we developed a nonspatial paradigm to test the hypothesis that the hippocampus is critical for keeping track of elapsed time over several minutes. We report that rats have a robust ability to remember durations at this timescale. We then determined the role of the hippocampus using infusions of fluorophore-conjugated muscimol, a GABAA agonist. We found that the hippocampus was essential for discriminating smaller, but not larger, temporal differences (measured in log units), consistent with a role in temporal pattern separation. Importantly, this effect was observed at long (minutes) but not short (seconds) timescales, suggesting an interplay of temporal resolution and timescale in determining hippocampal dependence. These results offer compelling evidence that the hippocampus plays a critical role in remembering how long ago events occurred.The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience 08/2013; 33(34):13888-93. DOI:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1733-13.2013 · 6.75 Impact Factor