Lesions to the CA2 region of the hippocampus impair social memory in mice

Eur J Neurosci. 2014 Nov;40(9):3294-301. doi: 10.1111/ejn.12689. Epub 2014 Aug 11.


The function of the CA2 region of the hippocampus is poorly understood. Although the CA1 and CA3 regions have been extensively studied, for years the CA2 region has primarily been viewed as a linking area between the two. However, the CA2 region is known to have distinct neurochemical and structural features that are different from the other parts of the hippocampus and in recent years it has been suggested that the CA2 region may play a role in the formation and/or recall of olfactory-based memories needed for normal social behavior. Although this hypothesis has been supported by hippocampal lesion studies that have included the CA2 region, no studies have attempted to specifically lesion the CA2 region of the hippocampus in mice to determine the effects on social recognition memory and olfaction. To fill this knowledge gap, we sought to perform excitotoxic N-methyl-D-aspartate lesions of the CA2 region and determine the effects on social recognition memory. We predicted that lesions of the CA2 region would impair social recognition memory. We then went on to test olfaction in CA2-lesioned mice, as social memory requires a functional olfactory system. Consistent with our prediction, we found that CA2-lesioned animals had impaired social recognition. These findings are significant because they confirmed that the CA2 region of the hippocampus is a part of the neural circuitry that regulates social recognition memory, which may have implications for our understanding of the neural regulation of social behavior across species.

Keywords: behavior; excitotoxic; olfaction; social recognition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CA2 Region, Hippocampal / physiology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Recognition, Psychology / physiology*
  • Social Behavior*