Time-dependent reorganization of brain circuitry underlying long-term memory storage

Nature. 1999 Aug 12;400(6745):671-5. doi: 10.1038/23270.


Retrograde amnesia observed following hippocampal lesions in humans and animals is typically temporally graded, with recent memory being impaired while remote memories remain intact, indicating that the hippocampal formation has a time-limited role in memory storage. However, this claim remains controversial because studies involving hippocampal lesions tell us nothing about the contribution of the hippocampus to memory storage if this region was present at the time of memory retrieval. We therefore used non-invasive functional brain imaging using (14C)2-deoxyglucose uptake to examine how the brain circuitry underlying long-term memory storage is reorganized over time in an intact brain. Regional metabolic activity in the brain was mapped in mice tested at different times for retention of a spatial discrimination task. Here we report that increasing the retention interval from 5 days to 25 days resulted in both decreased hippocampal metabolic activity during retention testing and a loss of correlation between hippocampal metabolic activity and memory performance. Concomitantly, a recruitment of certain cortical areas was observed. These results indicate that there is a time-dependent reorganization of the neuronal circuitry underlying long-term memory storage, in which a transitory interaction between the hippocampal formation and the neocortex would mediate the establishment of long-lived cortical memory representations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoradiography
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Deoxyglucose / metabolism
  • Hippocampus / physiology
  • Male
  • Maze Learning
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Radiography


  • Deoxyglucose