European Commission logo
English English
CORDIS - EU research results

The Brainstem-Hippocampus Network Uncovered: Dynamics, Reactivation and Memory Consolidation

Project description

Memory formation may rely on the brainstem and hippocampus being in sync

Structural and functional maps of the brain and brainstem have shed important light on neuronal circuits and their interconnections. When combined with behavioural studies, interconnected activity can be linked to higher functions. While the hippocampus has long been known to play a key role in memory processes, the role of the brainstem in memory remains largely unknown. However, synchronised activity has been linked to memory formation, and the brainstem modulates it during sleep and wakefulness. DREAM is simultaneously recording neuronal activity in the brainstem and hippocampus in mice performing a memory task or asleep mice. Advanced signal processing and machine learning could provide a model of the dynamic interactions between the brainstem and hippocampus and their relation to memory processes.


Storing information and then using it to guide behaviour is one of the most remarkable abilities of the brain. Memory storage relies on network mechanisms in which the hippocampal formation interacts with the rest of the brain during periods of sleep. The neural computations associated with this process correlate with both enduring and transient changes in the excitability of neural circuits. Nuclei located in the brainstem dictate these ‘state changes’, modulating the signalling between groups of forebrain cells. However, the role of the brainstem in memory formation remains unknown. This project aims to determine the role of different sleep stages in memory formation and long-term consolidation, and to elucidate the functional role of the brainstem in these processes. To this end, I will use a battery of experimental techniques, mathematical methods and biophysical models to probe and analyse the neural activity of the brainstem-hippocampal system. Neuronal activity will be recorded concurrently from the pons, thalamus and hippocampus of mice while performing a reference memory task. I will identify specific neural mechanisms that trigger different hippocampal synchrony regimes and memory reactivations mediated by brainstem activity during wakefulness and sleep. For this, I will develop state-of-the-art methods based on signal processing and machine learning. Besides, using optogenetic tools, I will determine the causal role of the brainstem in regulating hippocampal circuits and the animals’ behavioural performance. Finally, I will develop a biophysical model to test how well different network mechanisms explain the dynamics of the interactions between the brainstem and the hippocampus. Understanding the detailed properties of the interactions between these systems of the brain in relation to memory processes will be an important step toward establishing neurophysiological markers that can be preventive targets to ameliorate effects of memory-related pathologies.


Net EU contribution
€ 174 167,04
Am Campus 1
3400 Klosterneuburg

See on map

Ostösterreich Niederösterreich Wiener Umland/Nordteil
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 174 167,04