Ecologically relevant spatial memory use modulates hippocampal neurogenesis

Lara D. Ladage, Timothy C. Roth, Rebecca A. Fox, Vladimir V. Pravosudov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


The adult hippocampus in birds and mammals undergoes neurogenesis and the resulting new neurons appear to integrate structurally and functionally into the existing neural architecture. However, the factors underlying the regulation of new neuron production is still under scrutiny. In recent years, the concept that spatial memory affects adult hippocampal neurogenesis has gained acceptance, although results attempting to causally link memory use to neurogenesis remain inconclusive, possibly owing to confounds of motor activity, task difficulty or training for the task. Here, we show that ecologically relevant, spatial memory-based experiences of food caching and retrieving directly affect hippocampal neurogenesis in mountain chickadees (Poecile gambeli). We found that restricting memory experiences in captivity caused significantly lower rates of neurogenesis, as determined by doublecortin expression, compared with captive individuals provided with such experiences. However, neurogenesis rates in both groups of captive birds were still greatly lower than those in free-ranging conspecifics. These findings show that ecologically relevant spatial memory experiences can directly modulate neurogenesis, separate from other confounds that may also independently affect neurogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1071-1079
Number of pages9
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1684
StatePublished - Apr 7 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Environmental Science
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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