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Silent Learning.

Rossato JI, Moreno A, Genzel L, Yamasaki M, Takeuchi T, Canals S, Morris RGM.

Curr Biol. 28(21):3508-3515.e5.
Published 2018 Nov 5.

We introduce the concept of "silent learning"-the capacity to learn despite neuronal cell-firing being largely absent. This idea emerged from thinking about dendritic computation and examining whether the encoding, expression, and retrieval of hippocampal-dependent memory could be dissociated using the intrahippocampal infusion of pharmacological compounds. We observed that very modest enhancement of GABAergic inhibition with low-dose muscimol blocked both cell-firing and the retrieval of an already-formed memory but left induction of long-term potentiation (LTP) and new spatial memory encoding intact (silent learning). In contrast, blockade of hippocampal NMDA receptors by intrahippocampal D-AP5 impaired both the induction of LTP and encoding but had no effect on memory retrieval. Blockade of AMPA receptors by CNQX impaired excitatory synaptic transmission and cell-firing and both memory encoding and retrieval. Thus, in keeping with the synaptic plasticity and memory hypothesis, the hippocampal network can mediate new memory encoding when LTP induction is intact even under conditions in which somatic cell-firing is blocked.


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