Conversion of short-term to long-term memory in the novel object recognition paradigm

Moore SJ, Deshpande K, Stinnett GS, Seasholtz AF, Murphy GG
Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2013; 105:174-85.


It is well-known that stress can significantly impact learning; however, whether this effect facilitates or impairs the resultant memory depends on the characteristics of the stressor. Investigation of these dynamics can be confounded by the role of the stressor in motivating performance in a task. Positing a cohesive model of the effect of stress on learning and memory necessitates elucidating the consequences of stressful stimuli independently from task-specific functions. Therefore, the goal of this study was to examine the effect of manipulating a task-independent stressor (elevated light level) on short-term and long-term memory in the novel object recognition paradigm. Short-term memory was elicited in both low light and high light conditions, but long-term memory specifically required high light conditions during the acquisition phase (familiarization trial) and was independent of the light level during retrieval (test trial). Additionally, long-term memory appeared to be independent of stress-mediated glucocorticoid release, as both low and high light produced similar levels of plasma corticosterone, which further did not correlate with subsequent memory performance. Finally, both short-term and long-term memory showed no savings between repeated experiments suggesting that this novel object recognition paradigm may be useful for longitudinal studies, particularly when investigating treatments to stabilize or enhance weak memories in neurodegenerative diseases or during age-related cognitive decline.