The formation of imprinted memories during a critical period is crucial for vital behaviors, including filial attachment. Yet, little is known about the underlying molecular mechanisms. Using a combination of behavior, pharmacology, in vivo surface sensing of translation (SUnSET) and DiOlistic labeling we found that, translational control by the eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2 alpha (eIF2α) bidirectionally regulates auditory but not visual imprinting and related changes in structural plasticity in chickens. Increasing phosphorylation of eIF2α (p-eIF2α) reduces translation rates and spine plasticity, and selectively impairs auditory imprinting. By contrast, inhibition of an eIF2α kinase or blocking the translational program controlled by p-eIF2α enhances auditory imprinting. Importantly, these manipulations are able to reopen the critical period. Thus, we have identified a translational control mechanism that selectively underlies auditory imprinting. Restoring translational control of eIF2α holds the promise to rejuvenate adult brain plasticity and restore learning and memory in a variety of cognitive disorders.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)