Role for a cortical input to hippocampal area CA1 in the consolidation of a long-term memory

Nature. 2004 Oct 7;431(7009):699-703. doi: 10.1038/nature02965.


A dialogue between the hippocampus and the neocortex is thought to underlie the formation, consolidation and retrieval of episodic memories, although the nature of this cortico-hippocampal communication is poorly understood. Using selective electrolytic lesions in rats, here we examined the role of the direct entorhinal projection (temporoammonic, TA) to the hippocampal area CA1 in short-term (24 hours) and long-term (four weeks) spatial memory in the Morris water maze. When short-term memory was examined, both sham- and TA-lesioned animals showed a significant preference for the target quadrant. When re-tested four weeks later, sham-lesioned animals exhibited long-term memory; in contrast, the TA-lesioned animals no longer showed target quadrant preference. Many long-lasting memories require a process called consolidation, which involves the exchange of information between the cortex and hippocampus. The disruption of long-term memory by the TA lesion could reflect a requirement for TA input during either the acquisition or consolidation of long-term memory. To distinguish between these possibilities, we trained animals, verified their spatial memory 24 hours later, and then subjected trained animals to TA lesions. TA-lesioned animals still exhibited a deficit in long-term memory, indicating a disruption of consolidation. Animals in which the TA lesion was delayed by three weeks, however, showed a significant preference for the target quadrant, indicating that the memory had already been adequately consolidated at the time of the delayed lesion. These results indicate that, after learning, ongoing cortical input conveyed by the TA path is required to consolidate long-term spatial memory.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Entorhinal Cortex / injuries
  • Entorhinal Cortex / physiology*
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Male
  • Maze Learning / physiology
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Time Factors