How does the brain discriminate essential information aimed to be stored permanently from information required only temporarily, and that needs to be cleared away for not saturating our precious memory space? Reference Memory (RM) refers to the long-term storage of invariable information whereas Working Memory (WM) depends on the short-term storage of trial-unique information. Previous work has revealed that WM tasks are very sensitive to proactive interference. In order to prevent such interference, irrelevant old memories must be forgotten to give new ones the opportunity to be stabilized. However, unlike memory, physiological processes underlying this adaptive form of forgetting are still poorly understood. Here, we precisely ask what specific brain structure(s) could be responsible for such process to occur. To answer this question, we trained rats in a radial maze using three paradigms, a RM task and two WM tasks involving or not the processing of interference but strictly identical in terms of locomotion or motivation. We showed that an inhibition of the expression of Zif268 and c-Fos, two indirect markers of neuronal activity and synaptic plasticity, was observed in the dentate gyrus of the dorsal hippocampus when processing such interfering previously stored information. Conversely, we showed that inactivating the dentate gyrus impairs both RM and WM, but improves the processing of interference. Altogether, these results strongly suggest for the first time that the dentate gyrus could be a key structure involved in adaptive forgetting.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)