Adult-born neurons in the hippocampus are essential for social memory maintenance

Elise C. Cope, Renée C. Waters, Emma J. Diethorn, Kristen A. Pagliai, Carla G. Dias, Mumeko Tsuda, Heather A. Cameron, Elizabeth Gould

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Throughout adulthood, the dentate gyrus continues to produce new granule cells, which integrate into the hip-pocampal circuitry. New neurons have been linked to several known functions of the hippocampus, including learning and memory, anxiety and stress regulation, and social behavior. We explored whether transgenic reduction of adult-born neurons in mice would impair social memory and the formation of social dominance hier-archies. We used a conditional transgenic mouse strain [thymidine kinase (TK) mice] that selectively reduces adult neurogenesis by treatment with the antiviral drug valganciclovir (VGCV). TK mice treated with VGCV were unable to recognize conspecifics as familiar 24 h after initial exposure. We then explored whether reduc-ing new neurons completely impaired their ability to acquire or retrieve a social memory and found that TK mice treated with VGCV were able to perform at control levels when the time between exposure (acquisition) and reexposure (retrieval) was brief. We next explored whether adult-born neurons are involved in dominance hierarchy formation by analyzing their home cage behavior as well as their performance in the tube test, a social hierarchy test, and did not find any consistent alterations in behavior between control and TK mice treated with VGCV. These data suggest that adult neurogenesis is essential for social memory maintenance, but not for acquisition nor retrieval over a short time frame, with no effect on social dominance hierarchy. Future work is needed to explore whether the influence of new neurons on social memory is mediated through connections with the CA2, an area involved in social recognition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberENEURO.0182-20.2020
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience


  • Adult neurogenesis
  • Dentate gyrus
  • Hippocampus
  • Social dominance
  • Social memory


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