Neurobehavioral studies have produced contradictory findings concerning the function of neurogenesis in the adult dentate gyrus. Previous studies have proved inconsistent across several behavioral endpoints thought to be dependent on dentate neurogenesis, including memory acquisition, short-term and long-term retention of memory, pattern separation, and reversal learning. We hypothesized that the main function of dentate neurogenesis is long-term memory formation because we assumed that a newly formed and integrated neuron would have a long-term impact on the local neural network. We used a cyclin D2-knock-out (cyclin D2−/−) mouse model of endogenously deficient dentate neurogenesis to test this hypothesis. We found that cyclin D2−/− mice had robust and sustained loss of long-term memory in two separate behavioral tasks, Morris water maze (MWM) and touchscreen intermediate pattern separation. Moreover, after adjusting for differences in brain volumes determined by magnetic resonance (MR) imaging, reduced dentate neurogenesis moderately correlated with deficits in memory retention after 24 hours. Importantly, cyclin D2−/− mice did not show deficits in learning acquisition in a touchscreen paradigm of intermediate pattern separation or MWM platform location, indicating intact short-term memory. Further evaluation of cyclin D2−/− mice is necessary to confirm that deficits are specifically linked to dentate gyrus neurogenesis since cyclin D2−/− mice also have a reduced size of the olfactory bulb, hippocampus, cerebellum and cortex besides reduced dentate gyrus neurogenesis.
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