Computational influence of adult neurogenesis on memory encoding

Neuron. 2009 Jan 29;61(2):187-202. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2008.11.026.

Abstract

Adult neurogenesis in the hippocampus leads to the incorporation of thousands of new granule cells into the dentate gyrus every month, but its function remains unclear. Here, we present computational evidence that indicates that adult neurogenesis may make three separate but related contributions to memory formation. First, immature neurons introduce a degree of similarity to memories learned at the same time, a process we refer to as pattern integration. Second, the extended maturation and change in excitability of these neurons make this added similarity a time-dependent effect, supporting the possibility that temporal information is included in new hippocampal memories. Finally, our model suggests that the experience-dependent addition of neurons results in a dentate gyrus network well suited for encoding new memories in familiar contexts while treating novel contexts differently. Taken together, these results indicate that new granule cells may affect hippocampal function in several unique and previously unpredicted ways.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Algorithms
  • Animals
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Computer Simulation
  • Dentate Gyrus / cytology
  • Dentate Gyrus / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Nerve Net / cytology
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Neural Pathways / cytology
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Neurogenesis / physiology*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Stem Cells / cytology
  • Stem Cells / physiology*
  • Synapses / physiology
  • Time Perception / physiology