“Successful memory involves not only remembering information over time but also keeping memories distinct and less confusable. The computational process for making representations of similar input patterns more distinct from each other has been referred to as “pattern separation.” Although adult-born immature neurons have been implicated in this memory feature, the precise role of these neurons and associated molecules in the processing of overlapping memories is unknown.” Recently, Gage and colleagues found that brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the dentate gyrus is required for the encoding/consolidation of overlapping memories. In the present study, they provide evidence that consolidation of these “pattern-separated” memories requires the action of BDNF on immature neurons specifically. BDNF levels are modulated by lifestyle factors such as physical exercise, stress and diet. Whether lifestyle management and BDNF-modulating agents may interact to improve memory function is an area useful for further investigation.
Bekinschtein P, Kent BA, Oomen CA, Clemenson GD, Gage FH, Saksida LM and Bussey TJ: Brain-derived neurotrophic factor interacts with adult-born immature cells in the dentate gyrus during consolidation of overlapping memories. Hippocampus 24(8):905-911 (2014).

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