Pattern completion, the ability to retrieve complete memories initiated by subsets of external cues, has been a major focus of many computation models. A previously study reports that such pattern completion requires NMDA receptors in the hippocampus. However, such a claim was derived from a non-inducible gene knockout experiment in which the NMDA receptors were absent throughout all stages of memory processes as well as animal's adult life. This raises the critical question regarding whether the previously described results were truly resulting from the requirement of the NMDA receptors in retrieval. Here, we have examined the role of the NMDA receptors in pattern completion via inducible knockout of NMDA receptors limited to the memory retrieval stage. By using two independent mouse lines, we found that inducible knockout mice, lacking NMDA receptor in either forebrain or hippocampus CA1 region at the time of memory retrieval, exhibited normal recall of associative spatial reference memory regardless of whether retrievals took place under full-cue or partial-cue conditions. Moreover, systemic antagonism of NMDA receptor during retention tests also had no effect on full-cue or partial-cue recall of spatial water maze memories. Thus, both genetic and pharmacological experiments collectively demonstrate that pattern completion during spatial associative memory recall does not require the NMDA receptor in the hippocampus or forebrain.
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