Investigating claustrocortical circuit function in sleep
A memory is perhaps the most fragile and personal of all our possessions. The ability to form and retrieve an episodic memory requires a very complex set of neurobiological processes in the brain. Although some of the neurobiology underlying memory is well worked out, there is much to be learned. One key factor in effective memory function is sleep. During sleep the memories of our experiences get consolidated or ‘stored’ within a brain region known as the cerebral cortex. The process of this consolidation requires precise synchronization between brain regions in order for neurons across different parts of the cortex to communicate effectively. The mechanisms by which this synchronization and memory consolidation arise are not completely established.
Recently, it was shown that one small brain region, the claustrum, provides an incredibly dense connection to many areas of the cerebral cortex, and neurons in the claustrum were found to be active during sleep. However, it remains to be determined if this claustrum region is important for memory consolidation. This grant will measure the activity of the claustrum neurons during memory consolidation to determine if these neurons correlate with these synchronous events occurring during sleep. In a parallel set of experiments, we will specifically activate or suppress claustrum neurons to determine if there are any direct effects on memory consolidation. These experiments will be the first to specifically interrogate claustrum function in the context of episodic memory consolidation and will provide a foundation for exploring new brain targets for preventing or enhancing memories.
Jesse Jackson , University of Alberta
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