Most of our everyday memories are forgotten. However, the retention of these trivial memories is enhanced when something novel/salient happens shortly before or after the time of memory encoding. Dopamine signaling in the hippocampus plays an important role in this novelty-associated memory enhancement. We recently made a ground-breaking finding (Takeuchi et al., Nature, 2016): projections from the noradrenergic locus coeruleus to the hippocampus can drive the novelty-induced memory enhancement via non-canonical release of dopamine. This is a completely new concept that I will explore by uncovering the molecular mechanisms of novelty detection and subsequent dopamine-dependent memory modulation.
I would like to address two issues:
(1) Which brain area detects novelty and how its signal reaches the locus coeruleus?
(2) Which proteins play crucial roles in novelty-induced memory enhancement in the hippocampus?
I will use sophisticated and well-defined everyday memory tasks in rats, designed to mimic the typical memory of daily life in humans, combined with a multidisciplinary approach. Identification of proteins that enhance memory retention will have the potential to reveal new drug targets for treatment/restoration of lost memory function.
I am dedicated to the understanding of molecular mechanisms of learning and memory. Early in my career, I focused on the molecular basis of cerebellar motor learning. Since 2008, I have focused on memory for events and facts that depend on the hippocampus. I investigated neural mechanisms that are responsible for assimilation of new memory into neocortical knowledge structure, and selective retention of trivial memory in the hippocampus through neuromodulation.
Enhancing everyday memory with novelty
Area of research:
01 Feb 2018 – 31 Jul 2019