Repeated stimulation of cultured networks of rat cortical neurons induces parallel memory traces

Joost le Feber*, Tim Witteveen, Tamar M. van Veenendaal, Jelle Dijkstra

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


During systems consolidation, memories are spontaneously replayed favoring information transfer from hippocampus to neocortex. However, at present no empirically supported mechanism to accomplish a transfer of memory from hippocampal to extra-hippocampal sites has been offered. We used cultured neuronal networks on multielectrode arrays and small-scale computational models to study the effect of memory replay on the formation of memory traces. We show that input-deprived networks develop an activity. connectivity balance where dominant activity patterns support current connectivity. Electrical stimulation at one electrode disturbs this balance and induces connectivity changes. Intrinsic forces in recurrent networks lead to a new equilibrium with activity patterns that include the stimulus response. The new connectivity is no longer disrupted by this stimulus, indicating that networks memorize it. A different stimulus again induces connectivity changes upon first application but not subsequently, demonstrating the formation of a second memory trace. Returning to the first stimulus does not affect connectivity, indicating parallel storage of both traces. A computer model robustly reproduced experimental results, suggesting that spike-timing-dependent plasticity and short time depression suffice to store parallel memory traces, even in networks without particular circuitry constraints.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)594-603
JournalLearning & Memory
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015

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