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Investigating Spike-Timing Dependent Plasticity Mechanisms of Memory Consolidation with Multiscale Hippocampal-Cortical Modelling

Principal Investigator:
  • Wilten Nicola, University of Calgary

Project Overview

The formation of our memories is a behaviour that encapsulates both long-and-short time scales. On the short time-scale, memories are initially formed in the hippocampus through the sequential firing of neurons. These sequences are then replayed by the hippocampus during sleep, where they are thought to be transferred into the neocortex in a process referred to as memory consolidation. However, the mechanism by which spike-sequences, and therefore memories, can be transferred from the hippocampus to the neocortex remains elusive. This project will investigate the possibility that cortical spike-timing-dependent plasticity can make copies of hippocampal spike sequences during sleep, and therefore transfer memories over from the hippocampus to the neocortex by using computational modelling of both circuits, and spike-timing dependent plasticity. Crucially, these models will be tested in data made publicly available by the Allen Institute for Brain Science. This data set is invaluable as it contains simultaneous recordings from neurons in both the hippocampus, and the neocortex, in mice engaged in a visual learning task. This allows us to interrogate and potentially falsify or validate our models with precisely the data we require. The impact of this project will be in uncovering the exact neurophysiological mechanism used to transfer memories from the hippocampus to the neocortex, and potentially allow us to determine how hippocampal disorders (e.g. epilepsy) or cortical disorders (e.g. schizophrenia) impact memory consolidation.