Between-systems memory interference during retrieval


Dr R. J. Sutherland, as above.


Context memories normally depend on the hippocampus (HPC) but, in the absence of the HPC, other memory systems are capable of acquiring and supporting these memories. This suggests that the HPC can interfere with other systems during memory acquisition. Here we ask whether the HPC can also interfere with the retrieval of a context memory that was independently acquired by a non-HPC system. Specifically, we assess whether the HPC can impair the retrieval of a contextual fear-conditioning memory that was acquired while the HPC was temporarily inactive. Rats were infused with the γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA)A receptor agonist muscimol in the dorsal and ventral HPC either before acquisition, retrieval, or prior to both acquisition and retrieval, consistent with the effects of permanent HPC lesions on contextual fear conditioning, if the HPC was inactive at the time of acquisition and retention memory was intact. Thus, non-HPC systems acquired and supported this memory in absence of the HPC. However, if the HPC was inactive during acquisition but active thereafter, rats displayed severe deficits during the retention test. Moreover, when the same rats received a second retention test but with the HPC inactive at this time, the memory was recovered, suggesting that removal of a form of interference allowed the memory to be expressed. Combined, these findings imply that the HPC competes and/or interferes with retrieval of a long-term memory that was established in non-HPC systems.