Cellular and system biology of memory: Timing, molecules, and beyond


  • M. Korte
  • D. Schmitz


  • Physiological Reviews


  • Physiol Rev 96 (2): 647-693


  • The storage of information in the mammalian nervous systems is dependent on a delicate balance between change and stability of neuronal networks. The induction and maintenance of processes that lead to changes in synaptic strength to a multistep process which can lead to long-lasting changes, which starts and ends with a highly choreographed and perfectly timed dance of molecules in different cell types of the central nervous system. This is accompanied by synchronization of specific networks, resulting in the generation of characteristic "macroscopic" rhythmic electrical fields, whose characteristic frequencies correspond to certain activity and information-processing states of the brain. Molecular events and macroscopic fields influence each other reciprocally. We review here cellular processes of synaptic plasticity, particularly functional and structural changes, and focus on timing events that are important for the initial memory acquisition, as well as mechanisms of short- and long-term memory storage. Then, we cover the importance of epigenetic events on the long-time range. Furthermore, we consider how brain rhythms at the network level participate in processes of information storage and by what means they participating in it. Finally, we examine memory consolidation at the system level during processes of sleep.