Navigation Links
Researchers pinpoint brain region essential for social memory
Date:2/23/2014

NEW YORK, NY (February 23, 2014) Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) researchers have determined that a small region of the hippocampus known as CA2 is essential for social memory, the ability of an animal to recognize another of the same species. A better grasp of the function of CA2 could prove useful in understanding and treating disorders characterized by altered social behaviors, such as autism, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. The findings, made in mice, were published today in the online edition of Nature.

Scientists have long understood that the hippocampusa pair of seahorse-shaped structures in the brain's temporal lobesplays a critical role in our ability to remember the who, what, where, and when of our daily lives. Recent studies have shown that different subregions of the hippocampus have different functions. For instance, the dentate gyrus is critical for distinguishing between similar environments, while CA3 enables us to recall a memory from partial cues (e.g., Proust's famous madeleine). The CA1 region is critical for all forms of memory.

"However, the role of CA2, a relatively small region of the hippocampus sandwiched between CA3 and CA1, has remained largely unknown," said senior author Steven A. Siegelbaum, PhD, professor of neuroscience and pharmacology, chair of the Department of Neuroscience, a member of the Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute and Kavli Institute for Brain Science, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. A few studies have suggested that CA2 might be involved in social memory, as this region has a high level of expression of a receptor for vasopressin, a hormone linked to sexual motivation, bonding, and other social behaviors.

To learn more about this part of the hippocampus, the researchers created a transgenic mouse in which CA2 neurons could be selectively inhibited in adult animals. Once the neurons were inhibited, the mice were given a series of behavioral tests. "The mice looked quite normal until we looked at social memory," said first author Frederick L. Hitti, an MD-PhD student in Dr. Siegelbaum's laboratory, who developed the transgenic mouse. "Normally, mice are naturally curious about a mouse they've never met; they spend more time investigating an unfamiliar mouse than a familiar one. In our experiment, however, mice with an inactivated CA2 region showed no preference for a novel mouse versus a previously encountered mouse, indicating a lack of social memory."

In two separate novel-object recognition tests, the CA2-deficient mice showed a normal preference for an object they had not previously encountered, showing that the mice did not have a global lack of interest in novelty. In another experiment, the researchers tested whether the animals' inability to form social memories might have to do with deficits in olfaction (sense of smell), which is crucial for normal social interaction. However, the mice showed no loss in ability to discriminate social or non-social odors.

In humans, the importance of the hippocampus for social memory was famously illustrated by the case of Henry Molaison, who had much of his hippocampus removed by surgeons in 1953 in an attempt to cure severe epilepsy. Molaison (often referred to as HM in the scientific literature) was subsequently unable to form new memories of people. Scientists have observed that lesions limited to the hippocampus also impair social memory in both rodents and humans.

"Because several neuropsychiatric disorders are associated with altered social behaviors, our findings raise the possibility that CA2 dysfunction may contribute to these behavioral changes," said Dr. Siegelbaum. This possibility is supported by findings of a decreased number of CA2 inhibitory neurons in individuals with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and altered vasopressin signaling in autism. Thus, CA2 may provide a new target for therapeutic approaches to the treatment of social disorders.

The paper is titled, "The hippocampal CA2 region is essential for social memory."


'/>"/>

Contact: Joannie Danielides
jcd2185@columbia.edu
917-539-4924
Columbia University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Discovery by Baylor University researchers sheds new light on the habitat of early apes
2. Kessler Foundation researchers study impact of head movement on fMRI data
3. Researchers propose a better way to make sense of Big Data
4. Researchers shed new light on the genetic history of the European beaver
5. Researchers identify new way to control stone fruit disease
6. Researchers warn against abrupt stop to geoengineering method
7. Researchers hijack cancer migration mechanism to move brain tumors
8. Plastic shopping bags make a fine diesel fuel, researchers report
9. GVSU researchers draw link between zebra mussels, risk of algae blooms
10. Researchers discover epic new Burgess Shale site in Canadas Kootenay National Park
11. Researchers use genetic signals affecting lipid levels to probe heart disease risk
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:12/16/2016)... , Dec 16, 2016 Research and Markets ... Market - Global Forecast to 2021" report to their offering. ... The biometric ... grow at a CAGR of 14.06% from 2016 to 2021. The ... is projected to reach 854.8 Million by 2021. The growth of ...
(Date:12/15/2016)... , Dec 15, 2016 ... Research and Markets has announced the ... their offering. The report forecasts the global military biometrics ... The report has been prepared based on an in-depth ... landscape and its growth prospects over the coming years. The report also ...
(Date:12/12/2016)... Dec. 12, 2016  Researchers at Trinity College, ... graphene by combining the material with Silly Putty. The ... pressure detector able to sense pulse, blood pressure, ... spider.  The research team,s findings ... read here:  http://science.sciencemag.org/content/354/6317/1257 ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:1/13/2017)... ... January 13, 2017 , ... ... to offer its customers three new solutions for measurements where traditional cuvette applications ... if a customer has an oddly-shaped sample that would not fit into a ...
(Date:1/12/2017)... ... ... Huffman Engineering, Inc. , a leader in control systems integration, today ... office as a chemical engineer. In his new role, Beck will use his ... science manufacturing and water/wastewater industries. , Prior to joining Huffman Engineering, Beck served for ...
(Date:1/12/2017)... 2017 A new report published by Allied Market Research titled, ... Analysis and Industry Forecast, 2014-2022," projects that the global in vitro toxicity testing market ... CAGR of 15.07% during the forecast period. Continue Reading ... ... ...
(Date:1/11/2017)... ... January 11, 2017 , ... Ovation Fertility™ Genetics ... reliable preimplantation genetic screening (PGS). , “Our genetics and IVF teams are recognized ... Genetics Scientific Director Amy Jones, M.S., ELD (ABB) , who has worked ...
Breaking Biology Technology: