Rats, subjected to low-dose irradiation that suppressed hippocampal neurogenesis, or a sham treatment, were administered a visual discrimination task under conditions of high, or low interference. Half of the rats engaged in running activity and the other half did not. In the non-runners, there was no effect of irradiation on learning, or remembering the discrimination response under low interference, but irradiation treatment increased their susceptibility to interference, resulting in loss of memory for the previously learned discrimination. Irradiated rats that engaged in running activity exhibited increased neuronal growth and protection from memory impairment. The results, which show that hippocampal cells generated in adulthood play a role in differentiating between conflicting, context-dependent memories, provide further evidence of the importance of neurogenesis in hippocampus-sensitive memory tasks. The results are consistent with computational models of hippocampal function that specify a central role for neurogenesis in the modulation of interfering influences during learning and memory.
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