The dorsal hippocampus is crucial for mammalian spatial memory, but its exact role in item memory is still hotly debated. Recent evidence in humans suggested that the hippocampus might be selectively involved in item short-term memory to deal with an increasing memory load. In this study, we sought to test this hypothesis. To this aim we developed a novel behavioral procedure to study object memory load in mice by progressively increasing the stimulus set size in the spontaneous object recognition task. Using this procedure, we demonstrated that naive mice have a memory span, which is the number of elements they can remember for a short-time interval, of about six objects. Then, we showed that excitotoxic selective lesions of the dorsal hippocampus did not impair novel object discrimination in the condition of low memory load. In contrast, the same lesion impaired novel object discrimination in the high memory load condition, and reduced the object memory span to four objects. These results have important heuristic and clinical implications because they open new perspective toward the understanding of the role of the hippocampus in item memory and in memory span deficits occurring in human pathologies, such as Alzheimer's disease and schizophrenia.
We investigated the role of cholinergic neurotransmission in olfactory fear learning. Mice receiving pairings of odor and foot shock displayed fear to the trained odor the following day. Pretraining injections of the nicotinic antagonist mecamylamine had no effect on subsequent freezing, w ... more
In Aplysia, repeated trials of aversive stimuli produce long-term sensitization (LTS) of defensive reflexes and suppression of feeding. Whereas the cellular underpinnings of LTS have been characterized, the mechanisms of feeding suppression remained unknown. Here, we report that LTS traini ... more
The anaphase promoting complex/cyclosome (APC/C) is an E3 ligase regulated by Cdh1. Beyond its role in controlling cell cycle progression, APC/C–Cdh1 has been detected in neurons and plays a role in long-lasting synaptic plasticity and long-term memory. Herein, we further examined the role ... more
The human mouth is home to a teeming community of microbes, yet still relatively little is known about what determines the specific types of microorganisms that live there. Is it your genes that decide who lives in the microbial village, or is it your environment? In a study published in ... more
Your genes determine much about you, but environment can have a strong influence on your genes even before birth, with consequences that can last a lifetime. In a study published in Genome Research, researchers have for the first time shown that the environment experienced in the womb defi ... more
The human gut is home to a teeming ecosystem of microbes that is intimately involved in both human health and disease. But while the gut microbiota is interacting with our body, they are also under constant attack from viruses. In a study published in Genome Research, researchers have ana ... more