Specific regions of the hippocampus connected to discrete steps of task mastery, study finds
(Medical Xpress)—In a study published in Nature Neuroscience, neurobiologists from the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research have been linking synapse formation in the hippocampus to distinct learning steps. They show how different regions of the hippocampus have specific and sequential functions in the mastery of a complex task.
The setup is natural. The mouse finds herself in the water and is looking for a dry place. But how does she solve this task? And what happens if she finds herself in the same situation again? Here is what the scientists observed: At the beginning, the mouse swims all around the little pool, randomly searching for the platform. After two days, there is a change in search approach: The mouse has learned where about the platform is and will start to search right away in the area of the platform. Finally, after another five days, the mouse knows exactly where the platform is and swims directly for it. What is astonishing is that every mouse behaves same way and all the mice learn to find the platform in about the same time, through the same trial and error search strategy stages.
Pico Caroni, senior group leader at the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research, and his team not only described for the first time how mice learn to master such a complex task step by step, but they have also been able to show how one region of the brain, the hippocampus, is engaged in these learning processes. The hippocampus is the region of the brain that is the relay station for a lot of sensory information. In this function, the hippocampus is extremely important for learning and the consolidation of memory. The hippocampus can be divided into three areas termed ventral (vH), intermediate (iH) and dorsal hippocampus (dH). Even though the composition of the neuronal networks in each area is comparable, they differ in gene expression, connectivity, tuning and function.
Caroni and his team could now show that this difference has functional implications in learning. It has been known that during learning new synapses are formed in the hippocampus by so called mossy fibers. In their study published in Nature Neuroscience the scientists show that each search strategy, each level of learning, is associated with a different region of the hippocampus. First, mossy fiber synapses are formed in vH. With the first change in search strategy, mossy fiber formation moves to iH. The mice now have a clear understanding of the relative position of the platform, e.g. distance from the pool wall. Finally, synapse formation moves to dH. By now the mouse has a clear map of the pool, the platform and her position in these surroundings. From now on the mouse will always know where the platform is and will directly head for it.
"We believe that many complex learning tasks are achieved through sub-tasks and that the three areas of the hippocampus are involved in similar ways," comments Caroni. "Our experiments indicate further that this approach is innate, which indicates that similar processes may play as we learn to bike or become proficient in playing tennis."
More information: Ruediger S, Spirig D, Donato F, Caroni P (2012) Goal-oriented searching mediated by ventral hippocampus early in trial-and-error learning. Nat Neurosci. 2012 Sep 23 [Epub ahead of print] www.nature.com/neu… nn.3224.html
Journal reference: Nature Neuroscience
- Scientists discover brain structures associated with learning May 02, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Discovery of schedule for circuit formation in the hippocampus Mar 01, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Learning left from right Dec 21, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- The hippocampus as a decision-maker Jul 19, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Learning requires rhythmical activity of neurons Sep 26, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
How can there be villous adenoma in colon, if there are no villi there
11 hours ago As title suggest. Thanks :smile:
How can there be a term called "intestinal metaplasia" of stomach
May 21, 2013 Hello everyone, Ok Stomach's normal epithelium is simple columnar, now in intestinal type of adenocarcinoma of stomach it undergoes "intestinal...
Pressure-volume curve: Elastic Recoil Pressure don't make sense
May 18, 2013 From pressure-volume curve of the lung and chest wall (attached photo), I don't understand why would the elastic recoil pressure of the lung is...
If you became brain-dead, would you want them to pull the plug?
May 17, 2013 I'd want the rest of me to stay alive. Sure it's a lousy way to live but it beats being all-the-way dead. Maybe if I make it 20 years they'll...
MRI bill question
May 15, 2013 Dear PFers, The hospital gave us a $12k bill for one MRI (head with contrast). The people I talked to at the hospital tell me that they do not...
Ratio of Hydrogen of Oxygen in Dessicated Animal Protein
May 13, 2013 As an experiment, for the past few months I've been consuming at least one portion of Jell-O or unflavored Knox gelatin per day. I'm 64, in very...
- More from Physics Forums - Medical Sciences
More news stories
(HealthDay)—Migraines and depression can each cause a great deal of suffering, but new research indicates the combination of the two may be linked to something else entirely—a smaller brain.
Neuroscience 1 hour ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0 |
Moving objects attract greater attention – a fact exploited by video screens in public spaces and animated advertising banners on the Internet. For most animal species, moving objects also play a major ...
Neuroscience 4 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
It is known that signs of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's and Huntington's disease can appear years before the disease becomes manifest; these signs take the form of subtle changes in the brain and behavior of ...
Neuroscience 4 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
Scientists have reversed behavioral and brain abnormalities in adult mice that resemble some features of schizophrenia by restoring normal expression to a suspect gene that is over-expressed in humans with ...
Neuroscience 6 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0 |
Researchers at Johns Hopkins have unraveled the molecular foundations of cocaine's effects on the brain, and identified a compound that blocks cravings for the drug in cocaine-addicted mice. The compound, already proven safe ...
Neuroscience 6 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
(HealthDay)—Implementation of systematic monitoring for medication adherence will allow for identification of barriers to adherence and tailoring of interventions, according to a viewpoint piece published ...
49 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
(AP)—A federal panel of medical experts says that an experimental insomnia drug from Merck & Co Inc. appears safe and effective, despite evidence from company trials that the pill can cause daytime sleepiness and difficulty ...
10 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
(HealthDay)—The American Cancer Society, which is celebrating on Wednesday a century of fighting a disease once viewed as a death sentence, is making a pledge to put itself out of business.
49 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
Until now, little was scientifically known about the human potential to cultivate compassion—the emotional state of caring for people who are suffering in a way that motivates altruistic behavior.
2 hours ago | not rated yet | 1 |
As the world prepares for what may be the next pandemic strain of influenza virus, in the H7N9 bird flu, a new UC Irvine study reveals that the 2009 H1N1 swine flu pandemic was deadliest for people under the age of 65, while ...
1 hour ago | not rated yet | 0