Hippocampus-dependent memories, such as social recognition (SRM), are modulated by neurogenesis. However, the precise role of newborn neurons in social memory processing is still unknown. We showed previously that 1 week of enriched environment (EE) is sufficient to increase neurogenesis in the hippocampus (HIP) and the olfactory bulb (OB) of mice. Here, we tested the hypothesis that 1 week of EE would enhance SRM persistence and strength. In addition, as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) may mediate some of the neurogenesis effects on memory, we also tested if 1 week of EE would increase BDNF expression in the HIP and OB. We also predicted that neurogenesis inhibition would block the gain of function caused by EE on both SRM and BDNF expression. We found that EE increased BDNF expression in the HIP and OB of mice; at the same time, it allowed SRM to last longer. In addition, mice on EE had their SRM unaffected by memory consolidation interferences. As we predicted, treatment with the anti-mitotic drug AraC blocked EE effects on SRM. Surprisingly, neurogenesis inhibition did not affect the BDNF expression, increased by EE. Together, our results suggest that newborn neurons improve SRM persistence through a BDNF-independent mechanism. Interestingly, this study on social memory uncovered an unexpected dissociation between the effect of adult neurogenesis and BDNF expression on memory persistence, reassuring the idea that not all neurogenesis effects on memory are BDNF-dependent.
Keywords: AraC; BDNF; Enriched environment; Neurogenesis; Social memory.