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Hippocampal NMDA receptors are important for behavioural inhibition but not for encoding associative spatial memories

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Bus,  Thorsten
Max Planck Research Group Behavioural Neurophysiology (Andreas T. Schaefer), Max Planck Institute for Medical Research, Max Planck Society;

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Sprengel,  Rolf
Department of Molecular Neurobiology, Max Planck Institute for Medical Research, Max Planck Society;

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Seeburg,  Peter H.
Department of Molecular Neurobiology, Max Planck Institute for Medical Research, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Taylor, A. M., Bus, T., Sprengel, R., Seeburg, P. H., Rawlins, J. N. P., & Bannerman, D. M. (2013). Hippocampal NMDA receptors are important for behavioural inhibition but not for encoding associative spatial memories. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences, 369(1633): 2013.0149, pp. 1-9. doi:10.1098/rstb.2013.0149.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0019-9003-9
Abstract
The idea that an NMDA receptor (NMDAR)-dependent long-term potentiation-like process in the hippocampus is the neural substrate for associative spatial learning and memory has proved to be extremely popular and influential. However, we recently reported that mice lacking NMDARs in dentate gyrus and CA1 hippocampal subfields (GluN1ΔDGCA1 mice) acquired the open field, spatial reference memory watermaze task as well as controls, a result that directly challenges this view. Here, we show that GluN1ΔDGCA1 mice were not impaired during acquisition of a spatial discrimination watermaze task, during which mice had to choose between two visually identical beacons, based on extramaze spatial cues, when all trials started at locations equidistant between the two beacons. They were subsequently impaired on test trials starting from close to the decoy beacon, conducted post-acquisition. GluN1ΔDGCA1 mice were also impaired during reversal of this spatial discrimination. Thus, contrary to the widely held belief, hippocampal NMDARs are not required for encoding associative, long-term spatial memories. Instead, hippocampal NMDARs, particularly in CA1, act as part of a comparator system to detect and resolve conflicts arising when two competing, behavioural response options are evoked concurrently, through activation of a behavioural inhibition system. These results have important implications for current theories of hippocampal function