To examine the in vivo function of presenilin-1 (PS1), we selectively deleted the PS1 gene in excitatory neurons of the adult mouse forebrain. These conditional knockout mice were viable and grew normally, but they exhibited a pronounced deficiency in enrichment-induced neurogenesis in the dentate gyrus. This reduction in neurogenesis did not result in appreciable learning deficits, indicating that addition of new neurons is not required for memory formation. However, our postlearning enrichment experiments lead us to postulate that adult dentate neurogenesis may play a role in the periodic clearance of outdated hippocampal memory traces after cortical memory consolidation, thereby ensuring that the hippocampus is continuously available to process new memories. A chronic, abnormal clearance process in the hippocampus may conceivably lead to memory disorders in the mammalian brain.
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