Hippocampal sharp wave/ripples during sleep for consolidation of associative memory.
Ramadan W, Eschenko O, Sara SJ.
PLoS One. 2009 Aug 20;4(8):e6697.
The beneficial effect of sleep on memory has been well-established by extensive research on humans, but the neurophysiological mechanisms remain a matter of speculation. This study addresses the hypothesis that the fast oscillations known as ripples recorded in the CA1 region of the hippocampus during slow wave sleep (SWS) may provide a physiological substrate for long term memory consolidation. We trained rats in a spatial discrimination task to retrieve palatable reward in three fixed locations. Hippocampal local field potentials and cortical EEG were recorded for 2 h after each daily training session. There was an increase in ripple density during SWS after early training sessions, in both trained rats and in rats randomly rewarded for exploring the maze. In rats learning the place -reward association, there was a striking further significant increase in ripple density correlated with subsequent improvements in behavioral performance as the rat learned the spatial discrimination aspect of the task. The results corroborate others showing an experience-dependent increase in ripple activity and associated ensemble replay after exploratory activity, but in addition, for the first time, reveal a clear further increase in ripple activity related to associative learning based on spatial discrimination.