Published online yesterday is the latest study from Dr. David Dupret and colleagues in Nature Neuroscience.
The hippocampus is an important brain circuit for spatial memory and the spatially selective spiking of hippocampal neuronal assemblies is thought to provide a mnemonic representation of space. We found that remembering newly learnt goal locations required NMDA receptordependent stabilization and enhanced reactivation of goal-related hippocampal assemblies. During spatial learning, place-related firing patterns in the CA1, but not CA3, region of the rat hippocampus were reorganized to represent new goal locations. Such reorganization did not occur when goals were marked by visual cues. The stabilization and successful retrieval of these newly acquired CA1 representations of behaviorally relevant places was NMDAR dependent and necessary for subsequent memory retention performance. Goal-related assembly patterns associated with sharp wave/ripple network oscillations, during both learning and subsequent rest periods, predicted memory performance. Together, these results suggest that the reorganization and reactivation of assembly firing patterns in the hippocampus represent the formation and expression of new spatial memory traces.