Causal role for sleep-dependent reactivation of learning-activated sensory ensembles for fear memory consolidation

Brittany Clawson, Emily Pickup, Amy Ensing, Laura Geneseo, James Shaver, John Gonzalez-Amoretti, Meiling Zhao, A. Kane York, Sha Jiang, Sara Ato

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Received Date: 21st April 20

Learning-activated engram neurons play a critical role in memory recall. An untested hypothesis is that these same neurons play an instructive role in offline memory consolidation. Here we show that a visually-cued fear memory is consolidated during post-conditioning sleep in mice. We then use TRAP (targeted recombination in active populations) to genetically label or optogenetically manipulate primary visual cortex (V1) neurons responsive to the visual cue . Following fear conditioning, mice respond to activation of this visual engram population in a manner similar to visual presentation of fear cues. Cue-responsive neurons are selectively reactivated in V1 during post-conditioning sleep. Mimicking visual engram reactivation optogenetically leads to increased representation of the visual cue in V1. Optogenetic inhibition of the engram population during post-conditioning sleep disrupts consolidation of fear memory. We conclude that selective sleep-associated reactivation of learning-activated sensory populations serves as a necessary instructive mechanism for memory consolidation.

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This is an abstract of a preprint hosted on an independent third party site. It has not been peer reviewed but is currently under consideration at Nature Communications.

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