Synapse-specific representation of the identity of overlapping memory engrams.

Abdou, K., M. Shehata, K. Choko, H. Nishizono, M. Matsuo, S. - I. Muramatsu, and K. Inokuchi, "Synapse-specific representation of the identity of overlapping memory engrams.", Science (New York, N.Y.), vol. 360, issue 6394, pp. 1227-1231, 2018 06 15.


Memories are integrated into interconnected networks; nevertheless, each memory has its own identity. How the brain defines specific memory identity out of intermingled memories stored in a shared cell ensemble has remained elusive. We found that after complete retrograde amnesia of auditory fear conditioning in mice, optogenetic stimulation of the auditory inputs to the lateral amygdala failed to induce memory recall, implying that the memory engram no longer existed in that circuit. Complete amnesia of a given fear memory did not affect another linked fear memory encoded in the shared ensemble. Optogenetic potentiation or depotentiation of the plasticity at synapses specific to one memory affected the recall of only that memory. Thus, the sharing of engram cells underlies the linkage between memories, whereas synapse-specific plasticity guarantees the identity and storage of individual memories.