Masoud Mohammadi, Zohreh Tavassoli, Sohrab Anvari, Mohammad Javan, Yaghoub Fathollahi

Avoidance and escape conditioning adjust adult neurogenesis to conserve a fit hippocampus in adult male rodents

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

AbstractIn this study, the connection between cognitive behaviors and the adult rodent hippocampus was investigated. Recording field potentials at performant pathway (PP)–hippocampal dentate gyrus (DG) synapses in transverse slices from the dorsal (d), intermediate (i), and ventral (v) hippocampus showed differences in paired‐pulse responses and long‐term potentiation in rats. The Barnes maze (BM) and passive avoidance (PA) tests indicated a decrease in escape latency and step‐through latency in both rats and mice over training days. A decrease in the use of random or sequential strategy while an increase in the use of direct strategy to search for an escape box occurred in both groups. Evaluation of the levels of neurogenesis markers (Ki67 and BrdU/NeuN) by immunofluorescence assay in the dDG, iDG, and vDG revealed a long‐axis disparity in the hippocampal dentate baseline cell proliferation and exposure to the BM and PA task changed the profile of baseline cell proliferation along the DG in both rats and mice. Also, these learning experiences changed the profile of BrdU+/NeuN+ cells along the DG of rats. Quantitation of hippocampal BDNF protein levels using ELISA exhibited no changes in BDNF levels due to learning experiences in rats. We demonstrate that PP–DG synaptic efficacy and neurogenesis are organized along a gradient. Avoidance and escape conditioning themselves are sufficient to change and calibrate adult neurogenesis along the hippocampal long axis in rodents. Further research will be required to determine the precise mechanisms underlying the role of experience‐derived neuroplasticity in cognitive function and decline.

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