Neural Substrates of Declarative-Like Memory in Rats

Macdonald Institute Building
Department or Unit: 
NSERC Discovery Grant
Project Dates: 

About the Project

Mammalian memory is an intricate and complex cognitive process involving the integration of disparate types of information. This research emphasizes the hierarchical and distributed nature of declarative memory (memory for facts and events) in the brain. Rats will be used to study the neurobiological underpinnings of various aspects of declarative memory, including how different types of information processed in different brain regions are integrated to form complex memories. A primary interest of the research is the neural basis of object recognition memory. This behavioural task will be used to study the anatomical, pharmacological, and molecular bases of declarative memory acquisition, consolidation, and retrieval. Moreover, variations on the basic object recognition task will be used to introduce increasing levels of complexity to facilitate the study of information integration in the service of higher-order declarative memories. This approach has the potential to provide great insight into not only the 'building blocks' of declarative memory, but also the progressive decline of memory in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, in which rather specific memory deficits (e.g., failing to recognize objects such as faces) expand into a much more marked global amnesia affecting all aspects of autobiographical and factual memory.