A reward makes rats more likely to replay memories in reverse

When a rat runs a maze and finds a reward, the first thing he does is pause to enjoy it, especially when it’s a spot of Nesquik chocolate. But inside his brain, the work isn’t done. In a study published August 25 in Neuron, researchers show that the rat’s memories of reaching the reward play forward and backward in its hippocampus, but it’s the backwards replay that increases with the size of the reward, possibly as a way to reinforce learning. “You don’t learn everything you need to learn during the actual experience itself,” says senior author David Foster, associate professor of neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “Experience is expensive. When rats run around, it’s dangerous. So experience should be treated as valuable, processed offline, and remembered.”…


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