One of the most intriguing topics in neuroscience and memory research today is ‘reconsolidation’: the phenomenon that a brief reminder renders an already consolidated memory labile again and that this fragile memory requires de novo protein synthesis to be reconsolidated. However, the functional role and the neural mechanisms of reconsolidation in humans are unclear. Another exciting line of research in neuroscience, based on the discovery of spatially tuned hippocampal place and entorhinal grid cells in rodents, suggests that during first exposure to an environment a spatial map-like representation is formed in the entorhinalhippocampal system and it has been proposed that events are then encoded onto this map in their spatial context. By combining the understanding of these two fields of animal research, translating it to systems neuroscience in humans and building on my recent discovery that place-cell and grid-cell like representations exist in humans, I will test the novel idea that these hippocampal and entorhinal representations of spatial context are a clue to understand the mechanisms of memory reconsolidation in humans. To examine this, I will use virtual-reality technologies combined with functional neuroimaging in humans. I will test the prediction that context reexposure leads to a reactivation of consolidated memories in neocortex and investigate the role of entorhinal-hippocampal context representations during memory reconsolidation. I will also examine the functional role and the mechanisms of a dynamic memory representation: How is new information integrated into reactivated memories? Finally, I will investigate conjunctive representations of cortical memories in the hippocampal formation. My eventual aim is to produce a coherent understanding of brain function from neural representations to systems-level involvement in behaviour which might help to understand the neural mechanisms underlying memory impairments in neuro-degenerative diseases.
Field of science
- /natural sciences/biological sciences/neurobiology
Call for proposal
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