This discovery challenges the conventional belief that the hippocampus alone plays a central role in memory consolidation and reveals a broader network of brain regions involved.
Associate Professor Kai-Hsiang Chuang from the Queensland Brain Institute explained that memory consolidation entails the reorganisation of brain networks during periods of rest and sleep. “But pinpointing which area of the brain supports memory consolidation is difficult and poorly understood because the process is highly spontaneous.”
To investigate further, the research team utilised magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques on mice undergoing two distinct types of spatial memory training. Their findings revealed that these training types led to the development of distinct functional brain connections.
Dr. Chuang highlighted that these connections enhanced brain integration and involved a network comprising the sensory cortex and subcortical areas. This discovery challenges the previously assumed notion that memory consolidation primarily revolves around the hippocampus.
Understanding the mechanisms of the brain, particularly in relation to memory, is vital for comprehending and addressing memory-related disorders like amnesia and cognitive decline, according to Dr. Chuang.
He emphasised that this research not only sheds light on the causal and functional roles of brain network hubs in memory formation but also introduces imaging techniques that can locate specific targets within the brain’s spontaneous networks.
The implications of this study are far-reaching, potentially opening doors to new ways of enhancing or suppressing memory consolidation.
“By detecting and targeting specific hubs within the brain’s spontaneous networks, we may one day find ways to enhance or suppress memory consolidation and treat memory related conditions such as dementia or post-traumatic stress disorders,” Dr Chuang said.