Neurobiology of a simple memory

J Neurophysiol. 2008 Jul;100(1):2-7. doi: 10.1152/jn.90479.2008. Epub 2008 May 7.


Habituation is one of the simplest forms of memory, yet its neurobiological mechanisms remain largely unknown in mammalian systems. This review summarizes recent multidisciplinary analyses of the neurobiology of mammalian odor habituation including in vitro and in vivo synaptic physiology, sensory physiology, behavioral pharmacology, and computational modeling approaches. The findings show that a metabotropic glutamate receptor-mediated depression of afferent synapses to the olfactory cortex is necessary and perhaps sufficient to account for cortical sensory adaptation and short-term behavioral habituation. Furthermore, long-term habituation is an N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor-dependent process within the olfactory bulb. Thus there is both a pharmacological and anatomical distinction between short-term and long-term memory for habituation. The differential locus of change underlying short- and long-term memory leads to predictable differences in their behavioral characteristics, such as specificity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Neurobiology*