- Adult neurogenesis and pattern separation in rodents
- A critical evaluation of data, tasks and interpretation
- Frontiers in Biology
- Volume | Issue number
- 11 | 3
- Pages (from-to)
- Number of pages
- Document type
- Review article
- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences (SILS)
The ability to discriminate and store similar inputs as distinct representations in memory is thought to rely on a process called pattern separation in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus. Recent computational and empirical findings support a role for adult-born granule neurons in spatial pattern separation. We reviewed rodent studies that have manipulated both hippocampal adult neurogenesis and assessed pattern separation. The majority of studies report a supporting role of adult born neurons in pattern separation as measured at the behavioral level. However, closer evaluation of the published findings reveals variation in both pattern separation tasks and in the interpretation of behavioral performance that, taken together, suggests that the role of hippocampal adult neurogenesis in pattern separation may be less established than is currently assumed. Assessment of pattern separation at the network level through the use of immediate early gene expression, optogenetic, pharmacogenetic and/or in vivo electrophysiology studies could be instrumental in further confirming a role of adult born neurons in pattern separation further. Finally, hippocampal adult neurogenesis and pattern separation are not an exclusive pair, as evidence for hippocampal adult neurogenesis contributing to the temporal separation of events in memory, forgetting and cognitive flexibility has also been found. We conclude that whereas current empirical evidence for the involvement of hippocampal adult neurogenesis in pattern separation seems supportive, there is a need for careful interpretation of behavioral findings and an integration of the various proposed functions of adult born neurons.
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