The hippocampus is critical for memory tasks which require an active maintenance of memory for a short period of time; however, the underlying neural mechanisms remain unknown. Most theoretical and computational models, which date back to the classic proposals by Donald Hebb in , have been self-constrained by anatomy, as most models rely on the recurrent connectivity in region CA3 to support "reverberating activity" capable of memory maintenance. However, several physiological and behavioral studies have specifically implicated region CA1 in tasks which require an active maintenance of memory. Here, we demonstrate that despite limited recurrent connectivity, CA1 contains a robust cellular mechanism for active memory maintenance in the form of self-sustained persistent firing. Using in vitro whole-cell recordings, we demonstrate that brief stimulation (0.2-2 s) reliably elicits long-lasting (> 30 s) persistent firing that is supported by the calcium-activated non-selective cationic current. In contrast to more traditional ideas, these data suggest that the hippocampal region CA1 is capable of active maintenance of memory.
Keywords: CAN current; information retention; learning and memory; mAChR; whole-cell patch clamp.
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