Cortico-amygdala interaction determines the insular cortical neurons involved in taste memory retrieval
The insular cortex (IC) is the primary gustatory cortex, and it is a critical structure for encoding and retrieving the conditioned taste aversion (CTA) memory. In the CTA, consumption of an appetitive tastant is associated with aversive experience such as visceral malaise, which results in avoidance of consuming a learned tastant. Previously, we showed that levels of the cyclic-AMP-response-element-binding protein (CREB) determine the insular cortical neurons that proceed to encode a
... encode a conditioned taste memory. In the amygdala and hippocampus, it is shown that CREB and neuronal activity regulate memory allocation and the neuronal mechanism that determines the specific neurons in a neural network that will store a given memory. However, cellular mechanism of memory allocation in the insular cortex is not fully understood. In the current study, we manipulated the neuronal activity in a subset of insular cortical and/or basolateral amygdala (BLA) neurons in mice, at the time of learning; for this purpose, we used an hM3Dq designer receptor exclusively activated by a designer drug system (DREADD). Subsequently, we examined whether the neuronal population whose activity is increased during learning, is reactivated by memory retrieval, using the expression of immediate early gene c-fos. When an hM3Dq receptor was activated only in a subset of IC neurons, c-fos expression following memory retrieval was not significantly observed in hM3Dq-positive neurons. Interestingly, the probability of c-fos expression in hM3Dq-positive IC neurons after retrieval was significantly increased when the IC and BLA were co-activated during conditioning. Our findings suggest that functional interactions between the IC and BLA regulates CTA memory allocation in the insular cortex, which shed light on understanding the mechanism of memory allocation regulated by interaction between relevant brain areas.