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Concept: Semantic memory


In recent years consumption of canola oil has increased due to lower cost compared with olive oil and the perception that it shares its health benefits. However, no data are available on the effect of canola oil intake on Alzheimer’s disease (AD) pathogenesis. Herein, we investigated the effect of chronic daily consumption of canola oil on the phenotype of a mouse model of AD that develops both plaques and tangles (3xTg). To this end mice received either regular chow or a chow diet supplemented with canola oil for 6 months. At this time point we found that chronic exposure to the canola-rich diet resulted in a significant increase in body weight and impairments in their working memory together with decrease levels of post-synaptic density protein-95, a marker of synaptic integrity, and an increase in the ratio of insoluble Aβ 42/40. No significant changes were observed in tau phosphorylation and neuroinflammation. Taken together, our findings do not support a beneficial effect of chronic canola oil consumption on two important aspects of AD pathophysiology which includes memory impairments as well as synaptic integrity. While more studies are needed, our data do not justify the current trend aimed at replacing olive oil with canola oil.

Concepts: Alzheimer's disease, Neuron, Fatty acid, Neurology, Ratio, Semantic memory, Tau protein, Alois Alzheimer


Many choice situations require imagining potential outcomes, a capacity that was shown to involve memory brain regions such as the hippocampus. We reasoned that the quality of hippocampus-mediated simulation might therefore condition the subjective value assigned to imagined outcomes. We developed a novel paradigm to assess the impact of hippocampus structure and function on the propensity to favor imagined outcomes in the context of intertemporal choices. The ecological condition opposed immediate options presented as pictures (hence directly observable) to delayed options presented as texts (hence requiring mental stimulation). To avoid confounding simulation process with delay discounting, we compared this ecological condition to control conditions using the same temporal labels while keeping constant the presentation mode. Behavioral data showed that participants who imagined future options with greater details rated them as more likeable. Functional MRI data confirmed that hippocampus activity could account for subjects assigning higher values to simulated options. Structural MRI data suggested that grey matter density was a significant predictor of hippocampus activation, and therefore of the propensity to favor simulated options. Conversely, patients with hippocampus atrophy due to Alzheimer’s disease, but not patients with Fronto-Temporal Dementia, were less inclined to favor options that required mental simulation. We conclude that hippocampus-mediated simulation plays a critical role in providing the motivation to pursue goals that are not present to our senses.

Concepts: Alzheimer's disease, Brain, Epistemology, Memory, Dementia, Operations research, Futures contract, Semantic memory


Several experiments have demonstrated an intimate relationship between hippocampal theta rhythm (4-12 Hz) and memory. Lesioning the medial septum or fimbria-fornix, a fiber track connecting the hippocampus and the medial septum, abolishes the theta rhythm and results in a severe impairment in declarative memory. To assess whether there is a causal relationship between hippocampal theta and memory formation we investigated whether restoration of hippocampal theta by electrical stimulation during the encoding phase also restores fimbria-fornix lesion induced memory deficit in rats in the fear conditioning paradigm. Male Wistar rats underwent sham or fimbria-fornix lesion operation. Stimulation electrodes were implanted in the ventral hippocampal commissure and recording electrodes in the septal hippocampus. Artificial theta stimulation of 8 Hz was delivered during 3-min free exploration of the test cage in half of the rats before aversive conditioning with three foot shocks during 2 min. Memory was assessed by total freezing time in the same environment 24 h and 28 h after fear conditioning, and in an intervening test session in a different context. As expected, fimbria-fornix lesion impaired fear memory and dramatically attenuated hippocampal theta power. Artificial theta stimulation produced continuous theta oscillations that were almost similar to endogenous theta rhythm in amplitude and frequency. However, contrary to our predictions, artificial theta stimulation impaired conditioned fear response in both sham and fimbria-fornix lesioned animals. These data suggest that restoration of theta oscillation per se is not sufficient to support memory encoding after fimbria-fornix lesion and that universal theta oscillation in the hippocampus with a fixed frequency may actually impair memory.

Concepts: Amygdala, Memory, Hippocampus, Episodic memory, Procedural memory, Semantic memory, Declarative memory, Theta rhythm


The hippocampus is critical for the acquisition and retrieval of episodic and contextual memories. Lesions of the dentate gyrus, a principal input of the hippocampus, block memory acquisition, but it remains unclear whether this region also plays a role in memory retrieval. Here we combine cell-type specific neural inhibition with electrophysiological measurements of learning-associated plasticity in behaving mice to demonstrate that dentate gyrus granule cells are not required for memory retrieval, but instead have an unexpected role in memory maintenance. Furthermore, we demonstrate the translational potential of our findings by showing that pharmacological activation of an endogenous inhibitory receptor expressed selectively in dentate gyrus granule cells can induce a rapid loss of hippocampal memory. These findings open a new avenue for the targeted erasure of episodic and contextual memories.

Concepts: Memory, Cerebrum, Hippocampus, Neurogenesis, Granule cell, Episodic memory, Amnesia, Semantic memory


there are no previous studies linking repeated heat exposure of sauna and the risk of memory diseases. We aimed to investigate whether frequency of sauna bathing is associated with risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Concepts: Alzheimer's disease, Neurology, Memory, Dementia, Semantic memory, Caregiving and dementia, Wandering, Sundowning


Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by progressive memory decline and subsequent loss of broader cognitive functions. Memory decline in the early stages of AD is mostly limited to episodic memory, for which the hippocampus has a crucial role. However, it has been uncertain whether the observed amnesia in the early stages of AD is due to disrupted encoding and consolidation of episodic information, or an impairment in the retrieval of stored memory information. Here we show that in transgenic mouse models of early AD, direct optogenetic activation of hippocampal memory engram cells results in memory retrieval despite the fact that these mice are amnesic in long-term memory tests when natural recall cues are used, revealing a retrieval, rather than a storage impairment. Before amyloid plaque deposition, the amnesia in these mice is age-dependent, which correlates with a progressive reduction in spine density of hippocampal dentate gyrus engram cells. We show that optogenetic induction of long-term potentiation at perforant path synapses of dentate gyrus engram cells restores both spine density and long-term memory. We also demonstrate that an ablation of dentate gyrus engram cells containing restored spine density prevents the rescue of long-term memory. Thus, selective rescue of spine density in engram cells may lead to an effective strategy for treating memory loss in the early stages of AD.

Concepts: Memory, Hippocampus, Long-term potentiation, Episodic memory, Long-term memory, Amnesia, Semantic memory, Declarative memory


It is well-established that active rehearsal increases the efficacy of memory consolidation. It is also known that complex events are interpreted with reference to prior knowledge. However, comparatively little attention has been given to the neural underpinnings of these effects. In healthy adults humans, we investigated the impact of effortful, active rehearsal on memory for events by showing people several short video clips and then asking them to recall these clips, either aloud (Experiment 1) or silently while in an MRI scanner (Experiment 2). In both experiments, actively rehearsed clips were remembered in far greater detail than unrehearsed clips when tested a week later. In Experiment 1, highly similar descriptions of events were produced across retrieval trials, suggesting a degree of semanticization of the memories had taken place. In Experiment 2, spatial patterns of BOLD signal in medial temporal and posterior midline regions were correlated when encoding and rehearsing the same video. Moreover, the strength of this correlation in the posterior cingulate predicted the amount of information subsequently recalled. This is likely to reflect a strengthening of the representation of the video’s content. We argue that these representations combine both new episodic information and stored semantic knowledge (or “schemas”). We therefore suggest that posterior midline structures aid consolidation by reinstating and strengthening the associations between episodic details and more generic schematic information. This leads to the creation of coherent memory representations of lifelike, complex events that are resistant to forgetting, but somewhat inflexible and semantic-like in nature.

Concepts: Memory, Cerebrum, Hippocampus, Episodic memory, Semantic memory, Cingulate cortex, Memory consolidation, Video clip


A central question in Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is whether the neuritic plaque is necessary and sufficient for the development of tau pathology. Hyperphosphorylation of tau is found within dystrophic neurites surrounding β-amyloid deposits in AD mouse models but the pathological conversion of tau is absent. Likewise, expression of a human tau repeat domain in mice is insufficient to drive the pathological conversion of tau. Here we developed an Aβ-amyloidosis mouse model that expresses the human tau repeat domain and show that in these mice, the neuritic plaque facilitates the pathological conversion of wild-type tau. We show that this tau fragment seeds the neuritic plaque-dependent pathological conversion of wild-type tau that spreads from the cortex and hippocampus to the brain stem. These results establish that in addition to the neuritic plaque, a second determinant is required to drive the conversion of wild-type tau.

Concepts: Alzheimer's disease, Neuron, Gene, Brain, Semantic memory, Mice, Necessary and sufficient condition, Tau protein


Cramer et al. (Reports, 23 March 2012, p. 1503; published online 9 February 2012) demonstrated in a mouse model for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) that treatment of APP/PS1ΔE9 mice with bexarotene decreased Aβ pathology and ameliorated memory deficits. We confirm the reversal of memory deficits in APP/PS1ΔE9 mice expressing human APOE3 or APOE4 to the levels of their nontransgenic controls and the significant decrease of interstitial fluid Aβ, but not the effects on amyloid deposition.

Concepts: Alzheimer's disease, Memory, Apolipoprotein E, Aluminium, Beta amyloid, Mouse, Semantic memory, Mice


We used a data-driven Bayesian model to automatically identify distinct latent factors of overlapping atrophy patterns from voxelwise structural MRIs of late-onset Alzheimer’s disease (AD) dementia patients. Our approach estimated the extent to which multiple distinct atrophy patterns were expressed within each participant rather than assuming that each participant expressed a single atrophy factor. The model revealed a temporal atrophy factor (medial temporal cortex, hippocampus, and amygdala), a subcortical atrophy factor (striatum, thalamus, and cerebellum), and a cortical atrophy factor (frontal, parietal, lateral temporal, and lateral occipital cortices). To explore the influence of each factor in early AD, atrophy factor compositions were inferred in beta-amyloid-positive (Aβ+) mild cognitively impaired (MCI) and cognitively normal (CN) participants. All three factors were associated with memory decline across the entire clinical spectrum, whereas the cortical factor was associated with executive function decline in Aβ+ MCI participants and AD dementia patients. Direct comparison between factors revealed that the temporal factor showed the strongest association with memory, whereas the cortical factor showed the strongest association with executive function. The subcortical factor was associated with the slowest decline for both memory and executive function compared with temporal and cortical factors. These results suggest that distinct patterns of atrophy influence decline across different cognitive domains. Quantification of this heterogeneity may enable the computation of individual-level predictions relevant for disease monitoring and customized therapies. Factor compositions of participants and code used in this article are publicly available for future research.

Concepts: Alzheimer's disease, Cerebral cortex, Memory, Cerebrum, Hippocampus, Dementia, Logic, Semantic memory