Hebbian plasticity in parallel synaptic pathways: A circuit mechanism for systems memory consolidation

Michiel Remme †, Urs Bergmann †, Denis Alevi, Susanne Schreiber, Henning Sprekeler *, Richard Kempter * (,* equal contributions)

Systems memory consolidation involves the transfer of memories across brain regions and the transformation of memory content. For example, declarative memories that transiently depend on the hippocampal formation are transformed into long-term memory traces in neocortical networks, and procedural memories are transformed within cortico-striatal networks. These consolidation processes are thought to rely on replay and repetition of recently acquired memories, but the cellular and network mechanisms that mediate the changes of memories are poorly understood. Here, we suggest that systems memory consolidation could arise from Hebbian plasticity in networks with parallel synaptic pathways—two ubiquitous features of neural circuits in the brain. We explore this hypothesis in the context of hippocampus-dependent memories. Using computational models and mathematical analyses, we illustrate how memories are transferred across circuits and discuss why their representations could change. The analyses suggest that Hebbian plasticity mediates consolidation by transferring a linear approximation of a previously acquired memory into a parallel pathway. Our modelling results are further in quantitative agreement with lesion studies in rodents. Moreover, a hierarchical iteration of the mechanism yields power-law forgetting—as observed in psychophysical studies in humans. The predicted circuit mechanism thus bridges spatial scales from single cells to cortical areas and time scales from milliseconds to years.

PLOS Comput Biol 17(12):e1009681 (2021)


Hebbian learninghippocampal volumememorysystems consolidation
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