Factors that influence the relative use of multiple memory systems

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ABSTRACT

Neurobehavioral evidence supports the existence of at least two anatomically distinct “memory systems” in the mammalian brain that mediate dissociable types of learning and memory; a “cognitive” memory system dependent upon the hippocampus and a “stimulus-response/habit” memory system dependent upon the dorsolateral striatum. Several findings indicate that despite their anatomical and functional distinctiveness, hippocampal- and dorsolateral striatal-dependent memory systems may potentially interact and that, depending on the learning situation, this interaction may be cooperative or competitive. One approach to examining the neural mechanisms underlying these interactions is to consider how various factors influence the relative use of multiple memory systems. The present review examines several such factors, including information compatibility, temporal sequence of training, the visual sensory environment, reinforcement parameters, emotional arousal, and memory modulatory systems. Altering these parameters can lead to selective enhancements of either hippocampal-dependent or dorsolateral striatal-dependent memory, and bias animals toward the use of either cognitive or habit memory in dual-solution tasks that may be solved adequately with either memory system. In many learning situations, the influence of such experimental factors on the relative use of memory systems likely reflects a competitive interaction between the systems. Research examining how various factors influence the relative use of multiple memory systems may be a useful method for investigating how these systems interact with one another. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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