Dopamine and Memory: Modulation of the Persistence of Memory for Novel Hippocampal NMDA Receptor-Dependent Paired Associates

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Three experiments investigated the role in memory processing of dopamine (DA) afferents to the hippocampus (HPC) that arise from the ventral tegmental area. One hypothesis is that D-1/D-5 receptor activation in HPC is necessary for the encoding of novel, episodic-like information; the other is that DA activation ensures the greater temporal persistence of transient hippocampal memory traces. Rats (n = 35) were trained, in separate experiments using an episodic-like memory task, to learn six paired associates (PAs) in an "event arena" involving a repeated association between specific flavors of food and locations in space. After 6 weeks of training, rats had learned a "schema" such that two new paired associates could be acquired in a single trial in one session (episodic-like memory). We show that encoding of novel PAs is sensitive to intrahippocampal microinfusion of the NMDA antagonist D-AP-5. Experiment 1 established that intrahippocampal infusion of the D-1/D-5 dopaminergic antagonist SCH23390 [R(+)-7-chloro-8-hydroxy-3-methyl-1-phenyl-2,3,4,5-tetrahydro-1H-3-benzazepine hydrochloride] before encoding of new PAs caused impaired memory 24 h later but that SCH23390 had no effect on the later memory of previously established PAs. Experiment 2 established that SCH23390 modulated the persistence of new memories over time (30 min vs 24 h) rather than affecting initial encoding. Experiment 3 revealed that the impact of SCH23390 was not mediated by state dependence nor had an effect on memory retrieval. These findings support the second hypothesis and establish that persistent, long-term memory of rapid, hippocampal-mediated acquisition of new paired associates requires activation of D-1/D-5 receptors in HPC at or around the time of encoding.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1610-1618
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 3 Feb 2010

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