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Subcortical circuits for procedural learning and memory

Thompson, E.J.; (2024) Subcortical circuits for procedural learning and memory. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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This thesis explores roles for subcortical circuits in establishing and supporting memory of procedural skills. My investigation considers two distinct but overlapping themes. Firstly, I have explored thalamic and striatal circuits which support skill learning and production online: during wakeful behaviour. (1) I outline a novel behavioural paradigm and (2) show that both learning, and execution of this 5-step sequence task is contingent on the DLS. (3) I then provide evidence that a thalamic region, rILT, supports this function, providing inputs to striatum which can define both the structure and content of motor sequence control. I argue that this circuit may form part of a motor efference feedback loop, chaining action-to-action to support serial order motor skills. In the second part of this thesis, I have examined the processes which support the function of these circuits offline: during rest or sleep. While hippocampal replay is thought to be the substrate of consolidation for episodic memory, little is known about the offline processes that support procedural memory formation. To address this, (4) I first identify that an offline mechanism in the DLS is indeed critical for procedural consolidation. (5) Then, to determine the neural basis of this mechanism, I describe a novel replay detection method based on an unsupervised point process model. (6) I validate this method using ground truth data and argue that extensive methodological testing and unbiased approaches such as the one described, are essential for understanding the true extent of offline dynamics. (7) When applying my method, I find fine grained procedural sequences are replayed offline in DLS. This replay shared many features in common with previously identified hippocampal reactivations and persisted throughout all stages of motor skill learning (8) Finally, I demonstrate that both procedural memory consolidation and replay in the DLS are independent from hippocampus. Consequently, I find evidence that procedural consolidation is an entirely distinct process from other kinds of neural consolidation.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Subcortical circuits for procedural learning and memory
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2024. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
Keywords: Procedural memory, neural replay, motor skill learning, striatum
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > The Sainsbury Wellcome Centre
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10184170
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