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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2011, Article ID 960389, 11 pages
Review Article

Ripples Make Waves: Binding Structured Activity and Plasticity in Hippocampal Networks

MRC Centre for Synaptic Plasticity, School of Physiology and Pharmacology, University of Bristol, University Walk, Bristol BS8 1TD, UK

Received 15 April 2011; Revised 14 June 2011; Accepted 23 June 2011

Academic Editor: Christian Leibold

Copyright © 2011 Josef H. L. P. Sadowski et al. 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.


Establishing novel episodic memories and stable spatial representations depends on an exquisitely choreographed, multistage process involving the online encoding and offline consolidation of sensory information, a process that is largely dependent on the hippocampus. Each step is influenced by distinct neural network states that influence the pattern of activation across cellular assemblies. In recent years, the occurrence of hippocampal sharp wave ripple (SWR) oscillations has emerged as a potentially vital network phenomenon mediating the steps between encoding and consolidation, both at a cellular and network level by promoting the rapid replay and reactivation of recent activity patterns. Such events facilitate memory formation by optimising the conditions for synaptic plasticity to occur between contingent neural elements. In this paper, we explore the ways in which SWRs and other network events can bridge the gap between spatiomnemonic processing at cellular/synaptic and network levels in the hippocampus.