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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

God's organism? The chick as a model system for memory studies.

The young chick is a powerful model system in which to study the biochemical and morphological processes underlying memory formation. Training chicks on a one trial passive avoidance task results in a molecular cascade in a specific brain region, the intermediate medial hyperstriatum ventrale. This cascade is initiated by glutamate release and engages a series of synaptic transients including increased calcium flux, up-regulation of NMDA-glutamate receptors, membrane protein phosphorylations, and the retrograde messenger NO. Expression of immediate early genes c-fos and c-jun precedes the synthesis, glycosylation, and redistribution, >4 hr downstream, of a number of synaptic membrane proteins, notably NCAM and L1. Other membrane proteins required in the early phase of memory formation include the amyloid precursor protein (APP) and apolipoprotein E. There are concomitant increases in dendritic spine number and changes in synaptic structure. Nonsynaptic factors, including corticosterone and BDNF, can modulate retention of the avoidance response, enhancing the salience of otherwise weakly retained memory. These results are discussed in relation to general concepts of memory formation and the spatio-temporal distribution of the putative memory trace.[1]


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