Still searching for the engram

Learn Behav. 2016 Sep;44(3):209-22. doi: 10.3758/s13420-016-0218-1.


For nearly a century, neurobiologists have searched for the engram-the neural representation of a memory. Early studies showed that the engram is widely distributed both within and across brain areas and is supported by interactions among large networks of neurons. Subsequent research has identified engrams that support memory within dedicated functional systems for habit learning and emotional memory, but the engram for declarative memories has been elusive. Nevertheless, recent years have brought progress from molecular biological approaches that identify neurons and networks that are necessary and sufficient to support memory, and from recording approaches and population analyses that characterize the information coded by large neural networks. These new directions offer the promise of revealing the engrams for episodic and semantic memories.

Keywords: Comparative cognition; Episodic memory; Memory; Rat; Spatial learning.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Emotions*
  • Learning*
  • Memory*
  • Neurons