Influence of Predator Stress on the Consolidation Versus Retrieval of Long-Term Spatial Memory and Hippocampal Spinogenesis

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dendrite, synaptic plasticity, spines, morphological plasticity, spatial memory, psychological stress, amnesia

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We have studied the influence of predator stress (30 min of cat exposure) on long‐term (24 h) spatial memory and the density of spines in basilar dendrites of CA1 neurons. Predator stress occurred either immediately before water maze training (Stress Pre‐Training) or before the 24 h memory test (Stress Pre‐Retrieval). The Control (nonstress) group exhibited excellent long‐term spatial memory and a robust increase in the density of stubby, but not mushroom, shaped spines. The Stress Pre‐Training group had impaired long‐term memory and did not exhibit any changes in spine density. The Stress Pre‐Retrieval group was also impaired in long‐term memory performance, but this group exhibited an increase in the density of stubby, but not mushroom, shaped spines, which was indistinguishable from the control group. These findings indicate that: (1) A single day of water maze training under control conditions produced intact long‐term memory and an increase in the density of stubby spines in CA1; (2) Stress before training interfered with the consolidation of information into long‐term memory and suppressed the training‐induced increase in spine density; and (3) Stress immediately before the 24 h memory test trial impaired the retrieval of the stored memory, but did not reverse the training‐induced increase in CA1 spine density. Overall, this work provides evidence of structural plasticity in dendrites of CA1 neurons which may be involved in the consolidation process, and how spinogenesis and memory are modulated by stress.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Hippocampus, v. 16, issue 7, p. 571-576