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Neural Plasticity
Volume 12 (2005), Issue 4, Pages 275-287

Interaction Between Emotion and Memory: Importance of Mammillary Bodies Damage in a Mouse Model of the Alcoholic Korsakoff Syndrome

Laboratoire de Neurosciences Cognitives, UMR CNRS 5106, Université de Bordeaux 1, Avenue des facultés, Talence 33405, France

Copyright © 2005 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Chronic alcohol consumption (CAC) can lead to the Korsakoff syndrome (KS), a memory deficiency attributed to diencephalie damage and/or to medial temporal or cortical related dysfunction. The etiology of KS remains unclear. Most animal models of KS involve thiaminedeficient diets associated with pyrithiamine treatment. Here we present a mouse model of CAC-induced KS. We demonstrate that CAC-generated retrieval memory deficits in working/ episodic memory tasks, together with a reduction of fear reactivity, result from damage to the mammillary bodies (MB). Experimental lesions of MB in non-alcoholic mice produced the same memory and emotional impairments. Drugs having anxiogenic-like properties counteract such impairments produced by CAC or by MB lesions. We suggest (a) that MB are the essential components of a brain network underlying emotional processes, which would be critically important in the retrieval processes involved in working/ episodic memory tasks, and (b) that failure to maintain emotional arousal due to MB damage can be a main factor of CAC-induced memory deficits. Overall, our animal model fits well with general neuropsychological and anatomic impairments observed in KS.