Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

A brain circuit for recognizing change

Date:
February 18, 2014
Source:
RIKEN
Summary:
To answer the seemingly simple question “Have I been here before?” we must use our memories of previous experiences to determine if our current location is familiar or novel. Scientists have now identified a region of the hippocampus, called CA2, which is sensitive to even small changes in a familiar context. The results provide the first clue to the contributions of CA2 to memory and may help shed light on why this area is often found to be abnormal in the schizophrenic brain.

Imaging of cell activity (green) across the hippocampus reveals CA2 (red) can detect small changes in a familiar context. Wintzer et al. Journal Of Neuroscience 2014.
Credit: RIKEN

To answer the seemingly simple question “Have I been here before?” we must use our memories of previous experiences to determine if our current location is familiar or novel. In a new study published in the Journal of Neuroscience researchers from the RIKEN Brain Science Institute have identified a region of the hippocampus, called CA2, which is sensitive to even small changes in a familiar context. The results provide the first clue to the contributions of CA2 to memory and may help shed light on why this area is often found to be abnormal in the schizophrenic brain.

Related Articles


Change comes in many flavors; if we move to a new country, city or house it is easy to recognize the novelty of the environment, but if we come home to find the furniture rearranged or a new piece of art on the wall, this recognition may be much slower. Scientists believe this is because memory formation requires comparing current information with previous experience and the larger the overlap, the more difficult the distinction. It has long been known that the hippocampus is a region of the brain crucial for this type of memory, however the identification of neurons responsible for this comparison has remained elusive.

In this study Marie Wintzer, Roman Boehringer, Denis Polygalov and Thomas McHugh used genetically modified mice and advanced cell imaging techniques to demonstrate that while the entire hippocampus is capable of detecting large changes in context, the small and often overlooked CA2 region is exquisitely sensitive to small changes.

Mice were familiarized with one context and then placed either in a much different context or back in the original with small alterations, such as several new small objects. By detecting the expression of activity induced genes Wintzer and colleagues were able to demonstrate that just a few new objects in the otherwise unchanged context completely altered the pattern of active cells specifically in CA2. Mice that had been genetically engineered to lack this CA2 response explored the new context much less than their normal siblings.

“CA2 has often been overlooked or simply grouped together with its more prominent neighbors, but these data suggest it’s unique and important for recognizing and reacting to changes in our environments” explains Dr. McHugh, the leader of the study.Compared to rodents, human CA2 is proportionally larger, but still as mysterious. One intriguing finding has been that early in the onset of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder there is a loss of inhibitory neurons specifically in CA2. In addition to the memory problems that accompany these diseases, patients often exhibit a hyper-sensitivity to changes in environment and routine. This study suggests there may be a functional relationship between this sensitivity and CA2 dysfunction, hinting at a new circuit to target in our attempts to understand the function of both the normal and diseased brain.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by RIKEN. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Marie E. Wintzer, Roman Boehringer, Denis Polygalov, Thomas J. McHugh. The hippocampal CA2 ensemble is sensitive to contextual change. Journal of Neuroscience, 2014 DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2563-13.2014

Cite This Page:

RIKEN. "A brain circuit for recognizing change." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 February 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140218184838.htm>.
RIKEN. (2014, February 18). A brain circuit for recognizing change. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140218184838.htm
RIKEN. "A brain circuit for recognizing change." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140218184838.htm (accessed December 18, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Kids Die While Under Protective Services

Kids Die While Under Protective Services

AP (Dec. 18, 2014) As part of a six-month investigation of child maltreatment deaths, the AP found that hundreds of deaths from horrific abuse and neglect could have been prevented. AP's Haven Daley reports. (Dec. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
UN: Up to One Million Facing Hunger in Ebola-Hit Countries

UN: Up to One Million Facing Hunger in Ebola-Hit Countries

AFP (Dec. 17, 2014) Border closures, quarantines and crop losses in West African nations battling the Ebola virus could lead to as many as one million people going hungry, UN food agencies said on Wednesday. Duration: 00:52 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Can fat disappear into thin air? New research finds that during weight loss, over 80 percent of a person's fat molecules escape through the lungs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Your Boss Should Let You Sleep In

Why Your Boss Should Let You Sleep In

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) According to research out of the University of Pennsylvania, waking up for work is the biggest factor that causes Americans to lose sleep. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins