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Reviews in the Neurosciences

Editor-in-Chief: Huston, Joseph P.

Editorial Board Member: Topic, Bianca / Adeli, Hojjat / Buzsaki, Gyorgy / Crawley, Jacqueline / Crow, Tim / Eichenbaum, Howard / Gold, Paul / Holsboer, Florian / Korth, Carsten / Lubec, Gert / McEwen, Bruce / Pan, Weihong / Pletnikov, Mikhail / Robbins, Trevor / Schnitzler, Alfons / Stevens, Charles / Steward, Oswald / Trojanowski, John

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2191-0200
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Volume 22, Issue 3 (Jun 2011)

Issues

When is adult hippocampal neurogenesis necessary for learning? Evidence from animal research

Estela Castilla-Ortega
  • Departamento de Psicobiología y Metodología de las CC, Universidad de Málaga, Campus de Teatinos, E-29071 Málaga, Spain
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Carmen Pedraza
  • Departamento de Psicobiología y Metodología de las CC, Universidad de Málaga, Campus de Teatinos, E-29071 Málaga, Spain
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Guillermo Estivill-Torrús
  • Unidad de Investigación, Fundación IMABIS, Hospital Regional Universitario Carlos Haya, Avenida Carlos Haya 25, E-29010 Málaga, Spain
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Luis J. Santín
  • Departamento de Psicobiología y Metodología de las CC, Universidad de Málaga, Campus de Teatinos, E-29071 Málaga, Spain
  • Email
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2011-05-13 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/rns.2011.027

Abstract

The hippocampus is a key brain structure involved in the short- and long-term processing of declarative memory. Since adult hippocampal neurogenesis was first found, numerous studies have tried to establish the contribution of newborn neurons to hippocampus-dependent cognitive functions. However, this large amount of research has generated contradictory results. In this paper, we review the body of evidence investigating the relationship between hippocampal neurogenesis and learning to conclude the functional role of adult-born hippocampal neurons. First, factors that could explain discrepancies among experiments are taken into account. Then, in addition to methodological differences, we emphasize the importance of the age of the newborn neurons studied, as to how their maturation influences both their properties and potential functionality. Next, we discuss which declarative memory components could require involvement of adult hippocampal neurogenesis, taking into consideration the representational demands of the task, its difficulty and the level of performance reached by the subject. Finally, other factors that could modulate neurogenesis and memory, such as stress levels or previous experience of the animal, should also be taken into consideration in interpreting experiments focused on neurogenesis. In conclusion, our analysis of published studies suggests that new adult-born neurons, under certain circumstances, have a crucial and irreplaceable role in hippocampal learning.

Keywords: consolidation; declarative memory; fear conditioning; Morris water maze; object and place recognition; spatial and temporal pattern separation and integration; spatial navigation

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Published Online: 2011-05-13

Published in Print: 2011-06-01


Citation Information: Reviews in the Neurosciences, ISSN (Online) 2191-0200, ISSN (Print) 0334-1763, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/rns.2011.027.

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