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Research examining the neuroanatomical bases of memory in mammals suggests that the hippocampus and dorsal striatum are parts of independent memory systems that mediate "cognitive" and stimulus-response "habit" memory, respectively. At the molecular level, increasing evidence indicates a role for immediate early gene (IEG) expression in memory formation. The present experiment examined whether acquisition of cognitive and habit memory result in differential patterns of IEG protein product expression in these two brain structures. Adult male Long-Evans rats were trained in either a hippocampal-dependent spatial water maze task, or a dorsal striatal-dependent cued water maze task. Ninety minutes after task acquisition, brains were removed and processed for immunocytochemical procedures, and the number of cells expressing Fos-like immunoreactivity (Fos-like-IR) and c-Jun-IR in sections from the dorsal hippocampus and the dorsal striatum were counted. In the dorsal hippocampus of rats trained in the spatial task, there were significantly more c-Jun-IR pyramidal cells in the CA1 and CA3 regions, relative to rats that had acquired the cued task, yoked controls (free-swim), or nave (home cage) rats. Relative to rats receiving cued task training and control conditions, increases in Fos-like IR were also observed in the CA1 region of rats trained in the spatial task. In rats that had acquired the cued task, patches of c-Jun-IR were observed in the posteroventral striatum; no such patches were evident in rats trained in the spatial task, yoked-control rats, or nave rats. The results demonstrate that IEG protein product expression is up-regulated in a task-dependent and brain structure-specific manner shortly after acquisition of cognitive and habit memory tasks.
author list (cited authors)
Teather, L. A., Packard, M. G., Smith, D. E., Ellis-Behnke, R. G., & Bazan, N. G.