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Evidence relating human verbal memory to hippocampal N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors.

Evidence relating human verbal memory to hippocampal N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors.

Authors: 
Grunwald T., Beck H., Lehnertz K., Blumcke I., Pezer N., Kurthen M., Fernandez G., Van Roost D., Heinze H.J., Kutas M., Elger C.E.
Year: 
1999
Journal: 
PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America)
Abstract: 

Studies in rodents and nonhuman primates have linked the activity of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors within the hippocampus to animals’ performance on memory-related tasks. However, whether these receptors are similarly essential for human memory is still an open question. Here we present evidence suggesting that hippocampal NMDA receptors, most likely within the CA1 region, do participate in human verbal memory processes. Words elicit a negative event-related potential (ERP) peaking around 400 ms within the anterior mesial temporal lobe (AMTL-N400). Ketamine, an NMDA-receptor antagonist, reduces the amplitude of the AMTL-N400 (in contrast to other hippocampal potentials) on initial presentation, eliminates the typical AMTL-N400 amplitude reduction with repetition, and leads to significant memory impairment. Of the various hippocampal subfields, only the density of CA1 neurons correlates with the word-related ERPs that are reduced by ketamine. Altogether, our behavioral, anatomical, and electrophysiological results indicate that hippocampal NMDA receptors are involved in human memory.

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