Direct Reactivation of a Coherent Neocortical Memory of Context

Kiriana K. Cowansage, Tristan Shuman, Blythe C. Dillingham, Allene Chang, Peyman Golshani, Mark Mayford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

242 Scopus citations


Declarative memories are thought to be stored within anatomically distributed neuronal networks requiring the hippocampus; however, it is unclear how neocortical areas participate in memory at the time of encoding. Here, we use a c-. fos-based genetic tagging system to selectively express the channelrhodopsin variant, ChEF, and optogenetically reactivate a specific neural ensemble in retrosplenial cortex (RSC) engaged by context fear conditioning. Artificial stimulation of RSC was sufficient to produce both context-specific behavior and downstream cellular activity commensurate with natural experience. Moreover, optogenetically but not contextually elicited responses were insensitive to hippocampal inactivation, suggesting that although the hippocampus is needed to coordinate activation by sensory cues, a higher-order cortical framework can independently subserve learned behavior, even shortly after learning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)432-441
Number of pages10
Issue number2
StatePublished - 22 Oct 2014
Externally publishedYes


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