Induction of hippocampal long-term potentiation during waking leads to increased extrahippocampal zif-268 expression during ensuing rapid-eye-movement sleep.


Rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep plays a key role in the consolidation of memories acquired during waking (WK). The search for mechanisms underlying that role has revealed significant correlations in the patterns of neuronal firing, regional blood flow, and expression of the activity-dependent gene zif-268 between WK and subsequent REM sleep. Zif-268 integrates a major calcium signal transduction pathway and is implicated by several lines of evidence in activity-dependent synaptic plasticity. Here we report that the induction of hippocampal long-term potentiation (LTP) during WK in rats leads to an upregulation of zif-268 gene expression in extrahippocampal regions during subsequent REM sleep episodes. This upregulation occurs predominantly in the amygdala, entorhinal, and auditory cerebral cortices during the first REM sleep episodes after LTP induction and reaches somatosensory and motor cerebral cortices as REM sleep recurs. We also show that hippocampal inactivation during REM sleep blocks extrahippocampal zif-268 upregulation, indicating that cortical and amygdalar zif-268 expression during REM sleep is under hippocampal control. Thus, expression of an activity-dependent gene involved in synaptic plasticity propagates gradually from the hippocampus to extrahippocampal regions as REM sleep recurs. These findings suggest that a progressive disengagement of the hippocampus and engagement of the cerebral cortex and amygdala occurs during REM sleep. They are also consistent with the view that REM sleep constitutes a privileged window for hippocampus-driven cortical activation, which may play an instructive role in the communication of memory traces from the hippocampus to the cerebral cortex.







Erich David Jarvis

Adjunct Professor in the Deptartment of Neurobiology

Dr. Jarvis' laboratory studies the neurobiology of vocal communication. Emphasis is placed on the molecular pathways involved in the perception and production of learned vocalizations. They use an integrative approach that combines behavioral, anatomical, electrophysiological and molecular biological techniques. The main animal model used is songbirds, one of the few vertebrate groups that evolved the ability to learn vocalizations. The generality of the discoveries is tested in other vocal learning orders, such as parrots and hummingbirds, as well as non-vocal learners, such as pigeons and non-human primates. Some of the questions require performing behavior/molecular biology experiments in freely ranging animals, such as hummingbirds in tropical forest of Brazil. Recent results show that in songbirds, parrots and hummingbirds, perception and production of song are accompanied by anatomically distinct patterns of gene expression. All three groups were found to exhibit vocally-activated gene expression in exactly 7 forebrain nuclei that are very similar to each other. These structures for vocal learning and production are thought to have evolved independently within the past 70 million years, since they are absent from interrelated non-vocal learning orders. One structure, Area X of the basal ganglia's striatum in songbirds, shows large differential gene activation depending on the social context in which the bird sings. These differences may reflect a semantic content of song, perhaps similar to human language.

The overall goal of the research is to advance knowledge of the neural mechanisms for vocal learning and basic mechanisms of brain function. These goals are further achieved by combined collaborative efforts with the laboratories of Drs. Mooney and Nowicki at Duke University, who study respectively behavior and electrophysiological aspects of songbird vocal communication.

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