Long-lasting input-specific experiencedependent changes of hippocampus synaptic function measured in the anesthetized rat

Eliott R.J. Levy, Kally C. O'Reilly, André A. Fenton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


How experience causes long-lasting changes in the brain is a central question in neuroscience. The common view is that synaptic function is altered by experience to change brain circuit functions that underlie conditioned behavior. We examined hippocampus synaptic circuit function in vivo, in three groups of animals, to assess the impact of experience on hippocampus function in rats. The “conditioned” group acquired a shock-conditioned place response during a cognitively-challenging, hippocampus synaptic plasticity-dependent task. The no-shock group had similar exposure to the environmental conditions but no conditioning. The home-cage group was experimentally naive. After the one-week retention test, under anesthesia, we stimulated the perforant path inputs to CA1, which terminate in stratum lacunosum moleculare (slm), and to the dentate gyrus (DG), which terminate in the molecular layer. We find synaptic compartment specific changes that differ amongst the groups. The evoked field EPSP (fEPSP) and pre-spike field response are enhanced only at the DG input layer and only in conditioned animals. The DG responses, measured by the population spiking activity and post-spike responses, are enhanced in both the conditioned and no-shock groups compared to home-cage animals. These changes are pathway specific because no differences are observed in slm of CA1. These findings demonstrate long-term, experience-dependent, pathway-specific alterations to synaptic circuit function of the hippocampus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberENEURO.0506-18.2019
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2019


  • Active place avoidance
  • Conditioning
  • Experience
  • Hippocampus
  • Memory
  • Synaptic circuit function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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