Previous work has shown that depletion of the cholinergic input to the hippocampus produces no impairment in an episodic (what-where-which) memory task in rats. However, in contrast a where-which task was significantly impaired. Models of acetylcholine function related to pattern separation were used to explain this result. Recent development of spontaneous recognition tasks to assess multiple trials consecutively in the same testing session allow an opportunity to assess whether an increase in interference produces an impairment in the episodic memory task using the same cholinergic lesion. By increasing the number of trials happening consecutively the proactive interference between events being remembered increases, with the prediction that a reduction in pattern separation as a result of reduced acetylcholine in the hippocampus would now produce an impairment in this task. We show that a continual trials approach to the episodic memory task has no impact on the effects of cholinergic depletion of the hippocampus, with effects mirroring those from using just one trial a day approaches to these tasks. We suggest that pattern separation models of acetylcholine function can still explain our findings, but with an apparent emphasis on context-specific locations rather than all types of memory.
- Episodic memory