A critical role for the nucleus reuniens in long-term, but not short-term associative recognition memory formation

Gareth R.I. Barker, Elizabeth Clea Warburton*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)
270 Downloads (Pure)


Recognition memory for single items requires the perirhinal cortex (PRH), whereas recognition of an item and its associated location requires a functional interaction among the PRH, hippocampus (HPC), and medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). Although the precise mechanisms through which these interactions are effected are unknown, the nucleus reuniens (NRe) has bidirectional connections with each regions and thus may play a role in recognition memory. Here we investigated, in male rats, whether specific manipulations of NRe function affected performance of recognition memory for single items, object location, or object-in-place associations. Permanent lesions in the NRe significantly impaired long-term, but not short-term, object-in-place associative recognition memory, whereas single item recognition memory and object location memory were unaffected. Temporary inactivation of the NRe during distinct phases of the object-in-place task revealed its importance in both the encoding and retrieval stages of long-term associative recognition memory. Infusions of specific receptor antagonists showed that encoding was dependent on muscarinic and nicotinic cholinergic neurotransmission, whereas NMDA receptor neurotransmission was not required. Finally, we found that long-term object-in-place memory required protein synthesis within the NRe. These data reveal a specific role for the NRe in long-term associative recognition memory through its interactions with the HPC and mPFC, but not the PRH. The delay-dependent involvement of the NRe suggests that it is not a simple relay station between brain regions, but, rather, during high mnemonic demand, facilitates interactions between the mPFC and HPC, a process that requires both cholinergic neurotransmission and protein synthesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3208-3217
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number13
Early online date28 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - 28 Mar 2018


  • Acetylcholine
  • Nucleus reuniens
  • Object-in-place
  • Protein synthesis
  • Recognition memory


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