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AbstractOne of the fundamental goals in neurosciences is to elucidate the formation and retrieval of brain's associative memory traces in real-time. Here, we describe real-time neural ensemble transient dynamics in the mouse hippocampal CA1 region and demonstrate their relationships with behavioral performances during both learning and recall. We employed the classic trace fear conditioning paradigm involving a neutral tone followed by a mild foot-shock 20 seconds later. Our large-scale recording and decoding methods revealed that conditioned tone responses and tone-shock association patterns were not present in CA1 during the first pairing, but emerged quickly after multiple pairings. These encoding patterns showed increased immediate-replay, correlating tightly with increased immediate-freezing during learning. Moreover, during contextual recall, these patterns reappeared in tandem six-to-fourteen times per minute, again correlating tightly with behavioral recall. Upon traced tone recall, while various fear memories were retrieved, the shock traces exhibited a unique recall-peak around the 20-second trace interval, further signifying the memory of time for the expected shock. Therefore, our study has revealed various real-time associative memory traces during learning and recall in CA1, and demonstrates that real-time memory traces can be decoded on a moment-to-moment basis over any single trial.
CitationPLoS One. 2009 Dec 16; 4(12):e8256