Post-encoding modulation of spatial memory by a GABAA-agonist
Iggena D, Maier PM, Häussler SM, Menk M, Olze H, Larkum ME, Finke C, Ploner CJ
We investigated the role of the post-encoding period for consolidation of self-centered (egocentric) and world-centered (allocentric) spatial memory in neurologically normal human subjects. We used the GABAA-ergic anesthetic propofol to transiently modulate neural activity during the early stage of spatial memory consolidation. A total of 52 patients undergoing minor surgery learned to navigate to a target in a five-armed maze derived from animal experiments immediately prior to injection of propofol (early group) or more than 60 minutes before injection (late group). Two hundred and forty minutes after anesthesia, subjects were tested for memory-guided navigation. Our results show a selective impairment of memory-guided navigation in the early group and near-normal performance in the late group. Both egocentric and allocentric navigation were affected, albeit with distinct error patterns. In the egocentric condition, early group patients navigated significantly more often to a wrong alley of the maze but showed normal navigation times, thus suggesting a deficit mainly for memory of sequences of path segments. By contrast, in the allocentric condition, early group patients mostly navigated to the correct alley of the maze but showed a significant increase in detours and prolonged navigation times, thus suggesting a weakened representation of the relationship between landmarks. We conclude that presumably hippocampus-dependent networks contribute to early consolidation of representations underlying both egocentric and allocentric memory-guided navigation. Distinct aspects of these representations are susceptible to GABAA-ergic modulation within a post-encoding time-window of less than 60 minutes, indicating a redistribution and reconfiguration of spatial memory networks early during consolidation.