The Department of Biomedicine

BBB seminar: Menno P. Witter

Understanding the entorhinal-hippocampal system: Complementing current approaches with cell-type specific changes in gene expression

Main content

Menno P. Witter
Kavli Institute for System Neuroscience & Centre for the Biology of Memory, NTNU, Trondheim and Institute for Clinical and Experimental Neurosciences, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Memory shapes our identity and our ability to function as productive social beings. Humans learn and remember throughout life. They gain knowledge and accumulate experiences that they consciously recollect. Decades of multidisciplinary research has identified that conscious memory is not a unitary function mediated by a single structure in the brain, but critically depends on the interactions between a number of closely associated cortical components located in close proximity to and including the hippocampal formation. Our current understanding of this hippocampal memory system remains largely confined to its building blocks at the microscopical level and to phenomenological descriptions at the macroscopic level. We aim to understand how this system functions by additional analyses at the intermediate level of neuronal microcircuits, and for this we will add newly opened methodological tools using a variety of genetic interventions to our existing methodology.

In my lecture, I aim to provide an overview of the functional architecture of the hippocampal formation and the adjacent entorhinal cortex. Using examples of our current studies on the hippocampal-entorhinal spatial representation system I will argue that the connectivity between entorhinal cortex and hippocampus can best be described as comprising multiple parallel and partially interleaved pathways. The interactions at different levels can be studied best by specifically tagging neurons at crucial nodes in the circuitry. A few examples from anatomical studies will be given indicating how we plan to reach our goals.

Host: Bolek Srebro <srebro[@]biomed.uib.no>, Dept. of Biomedicine