Deterioration of the hippocampus occurs in elderly individuals with and without dementia, yet individual variation exists in the degree and rate of hippocampal decay. Determining the factors that influence individual variation in the magnitude and rate of hippocampal decay may help promote lifestyle changes that prevent such deterioration from taking place. Aerobic fitness and exercise are effective at preventing cortical decay and cognitive impairment in older adults and epidemiological studies suggest that physical activity can reduce the risk for developing dementia. However, the relationship between aerobic fitness and hippocampal volume in elderly humans is unknown. in this study, we investigated whether individuals with higher levels of aerobic fitness displayed greater volume of the hippocampus and better spatial memory performance than individuals with lower fitness levels. Furthermore, in exploratory analyses, we assessed whether hippocampal volume mediated the relationship between fitness and spatial memory. Using a region-of-interest analysis on magnetic resonance images in 165 nondemented older adults, we found a triple association such that higher fitness levels were associated with larger left and right hippocampi after controlling for age, sex, and years of education, and larger hippocampi and higher fitness levels were correlated with better spatial memory performance. Furthermore, we demonstrated that hippocampal volume partially mediated the relationship between higher fitness levels and enhanced spatial memory. Our results clearly indicate that higher levels of aerobic fitness are associated with increased hippocampal volume in older humans, which translates to better memory function. (C) 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
The hippocampus plays a key role in the acquisition of new memories for places and events. Evidence suggests that the consolidation of these memories is enhanced during sleep. At the neuronal level, reactivation of awake experience in the hippocampus during sharp-wave ripple events, characteristic of slow-wave sleep, has been proposed as a neural mechanism for sleep-dependent memory consolidation. However, a causal relation between sleep reactivation and memory consolidation has not been established. Here we show that disrupting neuronal activity during ripple events impairs spatial learning. We trained rats daily in two identical spatial navigation tasks followed each by a 1-hour rest period. After one of the tasks, stimulation of hippocampal afferents selectively disrupted neuronal activity associated with ripple events without changing the sleep-wake structure. Rats learned the control task significantly faster than the task followed by rest stimulation, indicating that interfering with hippocampal processing during sleep led to decreased learning. (C) 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Overall dietary energy intake, particularly the consumption of simple sugars such as fructose, has been increasing steadily in Western societies, but the effects of such diets on the brain are poorly understood. Here, we used functional and structural assays to characterize the effects of excessive caloric intake on the hippocampus, a brain region important for learning and memory. Rats fed with a high‐fat, high‐glucose diet supplemented with high‐fructose corn syrup showed alterations in energy and lipid metabolism similar to clinical diabetes, with elevated fasting glucose and increased cholesterol and triglycerides. Rats maintained on this diet for 8 months exhibited impaired spatial learning ability, reduced hippocampal dendritic spine density, and reduced long‐term potentiation at Schaffer collateral—CA1 synapses. These changes occurred concurrently with reductions in levels of brain‐derived neurotrophic factor in the hippocampus. We conclude that a high‐calorie diet reduces hippocampal synaptic plasticity and impairs cognitive function, possibly through BDNF‐mediated effects on dendritic spines. Published 2008 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.
There is currently an intense debate about the nature of recognition memory and about the roles of medial temporal lobe subregions in recognition memory processes. At a larger level, this debate has been about whether it is appropriate to propose unified theories to explain memory at neural, functional, and phenomenological levels of analysis. Here, I review findings from physiology, functional imaging, and lesion studies in humans, monkeys, and rodents relevant to the roles of medial temporal lobe subregions in recognition memory, as well as in short-term memory and perception. The results from these studies are consistent with the idea that there is functional heterogeneity in the medial temporal lobes, although the differences among medial temporal lobe subregions do not precisely correspond to different types of memory tasks, cognitive processes, or states of awareness. Instead, the evidence is consistent with the idea that medial temporal lobe subregions differ in terms of the kind of information they process and represent, and that these regions collectively support episodic memory by binding item and context information. (c) 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Early life stress (ES) increases vulnerability to psychopathology and impairs cognition in adulthood. These ES-induced deficits are associated with lasting changes in hippocampal plasticity. Detailed information on the neurobiological basis, the onset, and progression of such changes and their sex-specificity is currently lacking but is required to tailor specific intervention strategies. Here, we use a chronic ES mouse model based on limited nesting and bedding material from postnatal day (P) 2-9 to investigate; (1) if ES leads to impairments in hippocampus-dependent cognitive function in adulthood and (2) if these alterations are paralleled by changes in developmental and/or adult hippocampal neurogenesis. ES increased developmental neurogenesis (proliferation and differentiation) in the dentate gyrus (DG) at P9, and the number of immature (NeurD1+ ) cells migrating postnatally from the secondary dentate matrix, indicating prompt changes in DG structure in both sexes. ES lastingly reduced DG volume and the long-term survival of developmentally born neurons in both sexes at P150. In adult male mice only, ES reduced survival of adult-born neurons (BrdU/NeuN+ cells), while proliferation (Ki67+ ) and differentiation (DCX+ ) were unaffected. These changes correlated with impaired performance in all learning and memory tasks used here. In contrast, in female mice, despite early alterations in developmental neurogenesis, no lasting changes were present in adult neurogenesis after ES and the cognitive impairments were less prominent and only apparent in some cognitive tasks. We further show that, although neurogenesis and cognition correlate positively, only the hippocampus-dependent functions depend on changes in neurogenesis, whereas cognitive functions that are not exclusively hippocampus-dependent do not. This study indicates that chronic ES has lasting consequences on hippocampal structure and function in mice and suggests that male mice are more susceptible to ES than females. Unraveling the mechanisms that underlie the persistent ES-induced effects may have clinical implications for treatments to counteract ES-induced deficits.
It is well accepted that recognition memory reflects the contribution of two separable memory retrieval processes, namely recollection and familiarity. However, fundamental questions remain regarding the functional nature and neural substrates of these processes. In this article, we describe a simple quantitative model of recognition memory (i.e., the dual-process signal detection model) that has been useful in integrating findings from a broad range of cognitive studies, and that is now being applied in a growing number of neuroscientific investigations of memory. The model makes several strong assumptions about the behavioral nature and neural substrates of recollection and familiarity. A review of the literature indicates that these assumptions are generally well supported, but that there are clear boundary conditions in which these assumptions break down. We argue that these findings provide important insights into the operation of the processes underlying recognition. Finally, we consider how the dual-process approach relates to recent neuroanatomical and computational models and how it might be integrated with recent findings concerning the role of medial temporal lobe regions in other cognitive functions such as novelty detection, perception, implicit memory and short-term memory. (c) 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Recent developments in MRI data acquisition technology are starting to yield images that show anatomical features of the hippocampal formation at an unprecedented level of detail, providing the basis for hippocampal subfield measurement. However, a fundamental bottleneck in MRI studies of the hippocampus at the subfield level is that they currently depend on manual segmentation, a laborious process that severely limits the amount of data that can be analyzed. In this article, we present a computational method for segmenting the hippocampal subfields in ultra-high resolution MRI data in a fully automated fashion. Using Bayesian inference, we use a statistical model of image formation around the hippocampal area to obtain automated segmentations. We validate the proposed technique by comparing its segmentations to corresponding manual delineations in ultra-high resolution MRI scans of 10 individuals, and show that automated volume measurements of the larger subfields correlate well with manual volume estimates. Unlike manual segmentations, our automated technique is fully reproducible, and fast enough to enable routine analysis of the hippocampal subfields in large imaging studies. (C) 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Activity-dependent changes in gene-expression are believed to underlie the molecular representation of memory. In this study, we report that in vivo activation of neurons rapidly induces the CREB-regulated microRNA miR-132. To determine if production of miR-132 is regulated by neuronal activity its expression in mouse brain was monitored by quantitative RT-PCR (RT-qPCR). Pilocarpine-induced seizures led to a robust, rapid, and transient increase in the primary transcript of miR-132 (pri-miR-132) followed by a subsequent rise in mature microRNA (miR-132). Activation of neurons in the hippocampus, olfactory bulb, and striatum by contextual fear conditioning, odor-exposure, and cocaine-injection, respectively, also increased pri-miR-132. Induction kinetics of pri-miR-132 were monitored and found to parallel those of immediate early genes, peaking at 45 min and returning to basal levels within 2 h of stimulation. Expression levels of primary and mature-miR-132 increased significantly between postnatal Days 10 and 24. We conclude that miR-132 is an activity-dependent microRNA in vivo, and may contribute to the long-lasting proteomic changes required for experience-dependent neuronal plasticity. (C) 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Numerous studies have reported a smaller hippocampal volume in Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients than in aging controls. However, in mild cognitive impairment (MCI), the results are inconsistent. Moreover, the left-right asymmetry of the hippocampus receives less research attention. In this article, meta-analyses are designed to determine the extent of hippocampal atrophy in MCI and AD, and to evaluate the asymmetry pattern of the hippocampal volume in control, MCI, and AD groups. From 14 studies including 365 MCI patients and 382 controls, significant atrophy is found in both the left [Effect size (ES), 0.92; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.72-1.11] and right (ES, 0.78, 95% CI, 0.57-0.98) hippocampus, which is lower than that in AD (ES, 1.60, 95% CI, 1.37-1.84, in left; ES, 1.52, 95% Cl, 1.31-1.72, in right). Comparing with aging controls, the average volume reduction weighted by sample size is 12.9% and 11.1% in left and right hippocampus in MCI, and 24.2% and 23.1% in left and right hippocampus in AD, respectively. The findings show a bilateral hippocampal volume loss in MCI and the extent of atrophy is less than that in AD. By comparing the left and right hippocampal volume, a consistent left-less-than-right asymmetry pattern is found, but with different extents in control (ES, 0.39), MCI (ES, 0.56), and AD (ES, 0.30) group. (C) 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.