This project addresses the role of functional circuitry of how memories are formed using a non-human primate model. Despite the great deal of evidence that both the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and medial temporal lobe (MTL) are critical for normal memory, there has been remarkably little experimental effort toward understanding how these two systems interact This is, in part, because neurophysiological studies have largely focused on either the PFC or MTL individually. As a result, much of what we know about them is based on comparisons between different animals with different training histories, often on different tasks, and/or different levels of experience. This confounds their comparison and precludes examination of the precise timing of their activity that gives insight into network properties and signal flow. Our goal is a more integrated understanding of the PFC and MTL. We will accomplish this by recording simultaneously from multiple electrodes in multiple subregions of the PFC and MTL while monkeys form and recall new context guided associative memories and while they make inferences based on those memories. By comparing the relative neural latencies for memories to be formed and recalled, we will determine where memories are formed, how they are recalled, and how memory-related signals flow between the PFC and MTL.
This work will bridge a critical and glaring gap in our understanding of memory: The establishment of homologies between the different subregions of the PFC and MTL of humans, monkeys, and rodents. These linkages will be key in validating animal models of memory disorders and thus provide new means for testing underlying cellular causes and assessing potential treatments.
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