Mnemonic Functions for Nonlinear Dendritic Integration in Hippocampal Pyramidal Circuits

Neuron. 2016 May 4;90(3):622-34. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2016.03.019. Epub 2016 Apr 14.


We present a model for neural circuit mechanisms underlying hippocampal memory. Central to this model are nonlinear interactions between anatomically and functionally segregated inputs onto dendrites of pyramidal cells in hippocampal areas CA3 and CA1. We study the consequences of such interactions using model neurons in which somatic burst-firing and synaptic plasticity are controlled by conjunctive processing of these separately integrated input pathways. We find that nonlinear dendritic input processing enhances the model's capacity to store and retrieve large numbers of similar memories. During memory encoding, CA3 stores heavily decorrelated engrams to prevent interference between similar memories, while CA1 pairs these engrams with information-rich memory representations that will later provide meaningful output signals during memory recall. While maintaining mathematical tractability, this model brings theoretical study of memory operations closer to the hippocampal circuit's anatomical and physiological properties, thus providing a framework for future experimental and theoretical study of hippocampal function.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology*
  • Animals
  • CA1 Region, Hippocampal / physiology*
  • CA3 Region, Hippocampal / physiology*
  • Dendrites / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Memory / physiology
  • Models, Neurological
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Pyramidal Cells / physiology*
  • Synapses / physiology