Heightened cortical excitability in aged rodents with memory impairment

Rebecca P. Haberman, Ming Teng Koh, Michela Gallagher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Elevated excitability in the hippocampus has emerged as a key contributor to reduced memory function in aging and in cognitive impairment prodromal to Alzheimer's disease. Here, we investigated the relationship between neural activity and memory in the hippocampus and a connectional cortical network using an aged rat model of individual differences for memory impairment. The expression of cFos was used as a measure of pharmacologically induced neural activity. Aged memory-impaired rats exhibited elevated cFos relative to young adult and aged unimpaired rats in the CA3 subfield of the hippocampus and in several cortical regions including the retrosplenial, parietal, and orbitofrontal cortices. Strong correlations between cFos intensity and task performance across the activated network showed a tight coupling between excitability and cognitive phenotype in aging. Elevated neural excitability extending beyond the hippocampus to interconnected posterior cortex (retrosplenial/parietal) was reduced by treatment with levetiracetam, a therapeutic with behavioral efficacy that has previously translated from rodent models of age-related impairment and Alzheimer's disease to humans with amnestic mild cognitive impairment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalNeurobiology of Aging
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Oct 3 2016



  • Aging
  • Hippocampal hyperactivity
  • Levetiracetam
  • Memory
  • Parietal cortex
  • Retrosplenial cortex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Aging
  • Developmental Biology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Clinical Neurology

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