- Wartman, Brianne C.
- Holahan, Mathew R.
Consolidation processes, involving synaptic and systems level changes, are suggested to stabilize memories once they are formed. At the synaptic level, dendritic structural changes are associated with long-term memory storage. At the systems level, memory storage dynamics between the hippocampus and anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) may be influenced by the number of sequentially encoded memories. The present experiment utilized Golgi-Cox staining and neuron reconstruction to examine recent and remote structural changes in the hippocampus and ACC following training on three different behavioral procedures. Rats were trained on one hippocampal-dependent task only (a water maze task), two hippocampal-dependent tasks (a water maze task followed by a radial arm maze task), or one hippocampal-dependent and one non-hippocampal-dependent task (a water maze task followed by an operant conditioning task). Rats were euthanized recently or remotely. Brains underwent Golgi-Cox processing and neurons were reconstructed using Neurolucida software (MicroBrightField, Williston, VT, USA). Rats trained on two hippocampal-dependent tasks displayed increased dendritic complexity compared to control rats, in neurons examined in both the ACC and hippocampus at recent and remote time points. Importantly, this behavioral group showed consistent, significant structural differences in the ACC compared to the control group at the recent time point. These findings suggest that taxing the demand placed upon the hippocampus, by training rats on two hippocampal-dependent tasks, engages synaptic and systems consolidation processes in the ACC at an accelerated rate for recent and remote storage of spatial memories.
Keywords: hippocampus, anterior cingulate cortex, remote memory, Golgi, memory storage