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Relationship: 748


The title of the KER should clearly define the two KEs being considered and the sequential relationship between them (i.e., which is upstream and which is downstream). Consequently all KER titles take the form “upstream KE leads to downstream KE”.  More help

Hippocampal Physiology, Altered leads to Cognitive Function, Decreased

Upstream event
Upstream event in the Key Event Relationship. On the KER page, clicking on the Event name under Upstream Relationship will bring the user to that individual KE page. More help
Downstream event
Downstream event in the Key Event Relationship. On the KER page, clicking on the Event name under Upstream Relationship will bring the user to that individual KE page. More help

Key Event Relationship Overview

The utility of AOPs for regulatory application is defined, to a large extent, by the confidence and precision with which they facilitate extrapolation of data measured at low levels of biological organisation to predicted outcomes at higher levels of organisation and the extent to which they can link biological effect measurements to their specific causes. Within the AOP framework, the predictive relationships that facilitate extrapolation are represented by the KERs. Consequently, the overall WoE for an AOP is a reflection in part, of the level of confidence in the underlying series of KERs it encompasses. Therefore, describing the KERs in an AOP involves assembling and organising the types of information and evidence that defines the scientific basis for inferring the probable change in, or state of, a downstream KE from the known or measured state of an upstream KE. More help

AOPs Referencing Relationship

This table is automatically generated upon addition of a KER to an AOP. All of the AOPs that are linked to this KER will automatically be listed in this subsection. Clicking on the name of the AOP in the table will bring you to the individual page for that AOP. More help
AOP Name Adjacency Weight of Evidence Quantitative Understanding Point of Contact Author Status OECD Status
Inhibition of Thyroperoxidase and Subsequent Adverse Neurodevelopmental Outcomes in Mammals adjacent High Moderate Kevin Crofton (send email) Open for citation & comment TFHA/WNT Endorsed
Sodium Iodide Symporter (NIS) Inhibition and Subsequent Adverse Neurodevelopmental Outcomes in Mammals adjacent Moderate Low Mary Gilbert (send email) Under Development: Contributions and Comments Welcome
Thyroid Receptor Antagonism and Subsequent Adverse Neurodevelopmental Outcomes in Mammals adjacent High Moderate Kevin Crofton (send email) Under development: Not open for comment. Do not cite Under Development

Taxonomic Applicability

Select one or more structured terms that help to define the biological applicability domain of the KER. In general, this will be dictated by the more restrictive of the two KEs being linked together by the KER. Authors can indicate the relevant taxa for this KER in this subsection. The process is similar to what is described for KEs (see pages 30-31 and 37-38 of User Handbook) More help
Term Scientific Term Evidence Link
rat Rattus norvegicus High NCBI
mouse Mus musculus High NCBI
humans Homo sapiens High NCBI

Sex Applicability

Authors can indicate the relevant sex for this KER in this subsection. The process is similar to what is described for KEs (see pages 31-32 of the User Handbook). More help
Sex Evidence
Male High
Female High

Life Stage Applicability

Authors can indicate the relevant life stage for this KER in this subsection. The process is similar to what is described for KEs (see pages 31-32 of User Handbook). More help
Term Evidence
During brain development High

Key Event Relationship Description

Provide a brief, descriptive summation of the KER. While the title itself is fairly descriptive, this section can provide details that aren’t inherent in the description of the KEs themselves (see page 39 of the User Handbook). This description section can be viewed as providing the increased specificity in the nature of upstream perturbation (KEupstream) that leads to a particular downstream perturbation (KEdownstream), while allowing the KE descriptions to remain generalised so they can be linked to different AOPs. The description is also intended to provide a concise overview for readers who may want a brief summation, without needing to read through the detailed support for the relationship (covered below). Careful attention should be taken to avoid reference to other KEs that are not part of this KER, other KERs or other AOPs. This will ensure that the KER is modular and can be used by other AOPs. More help

It is a well-accepted assertion that hippocampal synaptic integrity and plasticity are essential for spatial information processing in animals and spatial and episodic memory in humans (Burgess, 2002; Martin et al., 2000; Sweatt, 2016). A large number of studies with a variety of techniques and approaches have linked hippocampal functional deficits to decreased spatial ability, context learning, and fear learning. Study of human disease states and conditions where hippocampal function is impaired (i.e., brain trauma, Alzheimer’s disease, temporal lobe epilepsy, Down’s Syndrome), and imaging studies of hippocampal activation during memory challenge, makes itirrefutable that the hippocampus is essential for specific types of cognition abilities. Decades of animal research has reinforced this assertion.

There are many forms of synaptic plasticity and numerous ways in which physiological function of neural circuits can be assessed. Similarly, there are many forms of learning and memory and multiple tasks and specifics associated with these tasks that vary from laboratory to laboratory. An emerging field of computational cognitive neuroscience lies at the intersection of   computational neuroscience, machine learning and neural network theory. These computational and theoretical frameworks support the participation of the hippocampal synaptic transmission and plasticity in learning and memory in animals and humans (for review see: Ashby and Helie, 2012).

Evidence Supporting this KER

Assembly and description of the scientific evidence supporting KERs in an AOP is an important step in the AOP development process that sets the stage for overall assessment of the AOP (see pages 49-56 of the User Handbook). To do this, biological plausibility, empirical support, and the current quantitative understanding of the KER are evaluated with regard to the predictive relationships/associations between defined pairs of KEs as a basis for considering WoE (page 55 of User Handbook). In addition, uncertainties and inconsistencies are considered. More help

The weight of evidence for proper hippocampal function and episodic memory in humans and the animal analogue, spatial and fear-based context learning, is strong. Seminal studies over the past 60 years firmly established the cellular basis of behavior with synaptic plasticity (LTP and LTD). And recent work has provided details on the local hippocampal circuitry needed for memory formation and behavioral change (Sweatt, 2016). In humans, virtual reality experiments in large-scale spatial contexts demonstrate the convergence of spatial memory performance in normal patients with fMRI of the hippocampus clearly demonstrating the essentiality of hippocampal function to spatial learning (Burgess, 2002). This assertion is consistent with a wealth of animal data on hippocampal learning and memory. In rodent models, functional impairment of the hippocampus assessed using electrophysiological techniques is correlated with deficits in spatial memory typically assessed using mazes, and memory for context often assessed in fear-based learning paradigms (O’Keefe and Nadel, 1978; Clark et al., 2000; Squire, 2004; Eichenbaum, 2000; Panjo and Bramham, 2014).

Biological Plausibility
Define, in free text, the biological rationale for a connection between KEupstream and KEdownstream. What are the structural or functional relationships between the KEs? For example, there is a functional relationship between an enzyme’s activity and the product of a reaction it catalyses. Supporting references should be included. However, it is recognised that there may be cases where the biological relationship between two KEs is very well established, to the extent that it is widely accepted and consistently supported by so much literature that it is unnecessary and impractical to cite the relevant primary literature. Citation of review articles or other secondary sources, like text books, may be reasonable in such cases. The primary intent is to provide scientifically credible support for the structural and/or functional relationship between the pair of KEs if one is known. The description of biological plausibility can also incorporate additional mechanistic details that help inform the relationship between KEs, this is useful when it is not practical/pragmatic to represent these details as separate KEs due to the difficulty or relative infrequency with which it is likely to be measured (see page 40 of the User Handbook for further information).   More help

The biological plausibility of the KER is rated as strong. It is well accepted that the normal hippocampal function is critical for the acquisition and memory of context and spatially mediated tasks in rodents and humans (Sweatt, 2016).

Uncertainties and Inconsistencies
In addition to outlining the evidence supporting a particular linkage, it is also important to identify inconsistencies or uncertainties in the relationship. Additionally, while there are expected patterns of concordance that support a causal linkage between the KEs in the pair, it is also helpful to identify experimental details that may explain apparent deviations from the expected patterns of concordance. Identification of uncertainties and inconsistencies contribute to evaluation of the overall WoE supporting the AOPs that contain a given KER and to the identification of research gaps that warrant investigation (seep pages 41-42 of the User Handbook).Given that AOPs are intended to support regulatory applications, AOP developers should focus on those inconsistencies or gaps that would have a direct bearing or impact on the confidence in the KER and its use as a basis for inference or extrapolation in a regulatory setting. Uncertainties that may be of academic interest but would have little impact on regulatory application don’t need to be described. In general, this section details evidence that may raise questions regarding the overall validity and predictive utility of the KER (including consideration of both biological plausibility and empirical support). It also contributes along with several other elements to the overall evaluation of the WoE for the KER (see Section 4 of the User Handbook).  More help

There are no inconsistencies in this KER, but there are some uncertainties. It is a widely-held assertion that synaptic transmission and plasticity in the hippocampus underlie spatial learning (Martin et al., 2000; Gruart and Delgado-Garcia, 2007; Bramham, 2007). However, the causative relationship of which specific alterations in synaptic function are associated with specific cognitive deficits is difficult to ascertain given the many forms of learning and memory, and the complexity of synaptic interactions in even the simplest brain circuit.

Response-response Relationship
This subsection should be used to define sources of data that define the response-response relationships between the KEs. In particular, information regarding the general form of the relationship (e.g., linear, exponential, sigmoidal, threshold, etc.) should be captured if possible. If there are specific mathematical functions or computational models relevant to the KER in question that have been defined, those should also be cited and/or described where possible, along with information concerning the approximate range of certainty with which the state of the KEdownstream can be predicted based on the measured state of the KEupstream (i.e., can it be predicted within a factor of two, or within three orders of magnitude?). For example, a regression equation may reasonably describe the response-response relationship between the two KERs, but that relationship may have only been validated/tested in a single species under steady state exposure conditions. Those types of details would be useful to capture.  More help

Information does not exist to develop quantitative relationships between the KEs in this KER.

This sub-section should be used to provide information regarding the approximate time-scale of the changes in KEdownstream relative to changes in KEupstream (i.e., do effects on KEdownstream lag those on KEupstream by seconds, minutes, hours, or days?). This can be useful information both in terms of modelling the KER, as well as for analyzing the critical or dominant paths through an AOP network (e.g., identification of an AO that could kill an organism in a matter of hours will generally be of higher priority than other potential AOs that take weeks or months to develop). Identification of time-scale can also aid the assessment of temporal concordance. For example, for a KER that operates on a time-scale of days, measurement of both KEs after just hours of exposure in a short-term experiment could lead to incorrect conclusions regarding dose-response or temporal concordance if the time-scale of the upstream to downstream transition was not considered. More help
Known modulating factors
This sub-section presents information regarding modulating factors/variables known to alter the shape of the response-response function that describes the quantitative relationship between the two KEs (for example, an iodine deficient diet causes a significant increase in the slope of the relationship; a particular genotype doubles the sensitivity of KEdownstream to changes in KEupstream). Information on these known modulating factors should be listed in this subsection, along with relevant information regarding the manner in which the modulating factor can be expected to alter the relationship (if known). Note, this section should focus on those modulating factors for which solid evidence supported by relevant data and literature is available. It should NOT list all possible/plausible modulating factors. In this regard, it is useful to bear in mind that many risk assessments conducted through conventional apical guideline testing-based approaches generally consider few if any modulating factors. More help
Known Feedforward/Feedback loops influencing this KER
This subsection should define whether there are known positive or negative feedback mechanisms involved and what is understood about their time-course and homeostatic limits? In some cases where feedback processes are measurable and causally linked to the outcome, they should be represented as KEs. However, in most cases these features are expected to predominantly influence the shape of the response-response, time-course, behaviours between selected KEs. For example, if a feedback loop acts as compensatory mechanism that aims to restore homeostasis following initial perturbation of a KE, the feedback loop will directly shape the response-response relationship between the KERs. Given interest in formally identifying these positive or negative feedback, it is recommended that a graphical annotation (page 44) indicating a positive or negative feedback loop is involved in a particular upstream to downstream KE transition (KER) be added to the graphical representation, and that details be provided in this subsection of the KER description (see pages 44-45 of the User Handbook).  More help

Domain of Applicability

As for the KEs, there is also a free-text section of the KER description that the developer can use to explain his/her rationale for the structured terms selected with regard to taxonomic, life stage, or sex applicability, or provide a more generalizable or nuanced description of the applicability domain than may be feasible using standardized terms. More help

The majority of data in support of this KER is from rodent models. The evolutionary conservation of the role of the hippocampus in spatial cognitive functions suggests, with some uncertainty, that this KER is also applicable to other mammalian species.


List of the literature that was cited for this KER description using the appropriate format. Ideally, the list of references should conform, to the extent possible, with the OECD Style Guide (OECD, 2015). More help

Aarse J, Herlitze S, Manahan-Vaughan D. The requirement of BDNF for hippocampal synaptic plasticity is experience-dependent. Hippocampus. 2016 Jun;26(6):739-51.

An L, Zhang T. Prenatal ethanol exposure impairs spatial cognition and synaptic plasticity in female rats. Alcohol. 2015 Sep;49(6):581-8.

Andero R, Choi DC, Ressler KJ. BDNF-TrkB receptor regulation of distributed adult neural plasticity, memory formation, and psychiatric disorders. Prog Mol Biol Transl Sci. 2014. 122:169-92.

Andrade-Talavera Y, Benito I, Casañas JJ, Rodríguez-Moreno A, Montesinos ML.  Rapamycin restores BDNF-LTP and the persistence of long-term memory in a model of Down's syndrome. Neurobiol Dis. 2015. 82:516-25

Ashby FG, Helie S. The Neurodynamics of Cognition: A Tutorial on Computational Cognitive Neuroscience. J Math Psychol. 2011 Aug 1;55(4):273-289.

Bannerman DM, Sprengel R, Sanderson DJ, McHugh SB, Rawlins JNP, Monyer H, Seeburg PH (2014) Hippocampal synaptic plasticity, spatial memory and anxiety. Nat Rev Neurosci 15:181-192.

Bramham CR. Control of synaptic consolidation in the dentate gyrus: mechanisms, functions, and therapeutic implications. Prog Brain Res. 2007. 163:453-71.

Burgess N (2002) The hippocampus, space, and viewpoints in episodic memory. Q J Exp Psychol A 55:1057-1080. Clark RE, Zola SM, Squire LR. Impaired recognition memory in rats after damage to the hippocampus. J Neurosci. 2000 Dec 1;20(23):8853-60.

Deng W, Aimone JB, Gage FH (2010) New neurons and new memories: how does adult hippocampal neurogenesis affect learning and memory Nat Rev Neurosci 11:339-350.

Gilbert ME (2011) Impact of low-level thyroid hormone disruption induced by propylthiouracil on brain development and function. Toxicol Sci 124:432-445.

Gilbert ME, Sanchez-Huerta K, Wood C (2016) Mild Thyroid Hormone Insufficiency During Development Compromises Activity-Dependent Neuroplasticity in the Hippocampus of Adult Male Rats. Endocrinology 157:774-787.

Gilbert ME, Sui L (2006) Dose-dependent reductions in spatial learning and synaptic function in the dentate gyrus of adult rats following developmental thyroid hormone insufficiency. Brain Res 1069:10-22.

Grant SG, O'Dell TJ, Karl KA, Stein PL, Soriano P, Kandel ER. Impaired long-term potentiation, spatial learning, and hippocampal development in fyn mutant mice. Science. 1992 Dec 18;258(5090):1903-10.

Gruart A, Delgado-García JM. Activity-dependent changes of the hippocampal CA3-CA1 synapse during the acquisition of associative learning in conscious mice. Genes Brain Behav. 2007 Jun;6 Suppl 1:24-31.

Lynch, M.A. (2004). Long-Term Potentiation and Memory. Physiological Reviews. 84:87-136.

Martin SJ, Grimwood PD, Morris RG. Synaptic plasticity and memory: an evaluation of the hypothesis. Annu Rev Neurosci. 2000. 23:649-711.

Migaud M, Charlesworth P, Dempster M, Webster LC, Watabe AM, Makhinson M, He Y, Ramsay MF, Morris RG, Morrison JH, O'Dell TJ, Grant SG. Enhanced long-term potentiation and impaired learning in mice with mutant postsynaptic density-95 protein. Nature. 1998 Dec 3;396(6710):433-9.

Morris RG, Frey U. Hippocampal synaptic plasticity: role in spatial learning or the automaticrecording of attended experience? Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 1997 Oct 29;352(1360):1489-503. Review

Novkovic T, Mittmann T, Manahan-Vaughan D. BDNF contributes to the facilitation of hippocampal synaptic plasticity and learning enabled by environmental enrichment. Hippocampus. 2015 Jan;25(1):1-15.

O’Keefe, J. and Nadel, L. (1978). The Hippocampus as a Cognitive Map. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Opazo MC, Gianini A, Pancetti F, Azkcona G, Alarcón L, Lizana R, Noches V, Gonzalez PA, Marassi MP, Mora S, Rosenthal D, Eugenin E, Naranjo D, Bueno SM, Kalergis AM, Riedel CA (2008), Maternal hypothyroxinemia impairs spatial learning and synaptic nature and function in the offspring. Endocrinology 149:5097-5106

Panja, D. and C. R. Bramham (2014). "BDNF mechanisms in late LTP formation: A synthesis and breakdown." Neuropharmacology 76 Pt C: 664-676.

Schultz C, Engelhardt M, Anatomy of the hippocampal formation. Front Neurol Neurosci. 2014. 34:6-17

Patterson SL, Abel T, Deuel TA, Martin KC, Rose JC, Kandel ER. Recombinant BDNF rescues deficits in basal synaptic transmission and hippocampal LTP in BDNF knockout mice. Neuron. 1996 Jun;16(6):1137-45.

Seed J, Carney EW, Corley RA, Crofton KM, DeSesso JM, Foster PM, Kavlock R, Kimmel G, Klaunig J, Meek ME, Preston RJ, Slikker W Jr, Tabacova S, Williams GM, Wiltse J, Zoeller RT, Fenner-Crisp P, Patton DE.  Overview: Using mode of action and life stage information to evaluate the human relevance of animal toxicity data. Crit Rev Toxicol. 2005 35:664-72.

Spilker C, Nullmeier S, Grochowska KM, Schumacher A, Butnaru I, Macharadze T, Gomes GM, Yuanxiang P, Bayraktar G, Rodenstein C, Geiseler C, Kolodziej A, Lopez-Rojas J, Montag D, Angenstein F, Bär J, D'Hanis W, Roskoden T, Mikhaylova M, Budinger E, Ohl FW, Stork O, Zenclussen AC, Karpova A, Schwegler H, Kreutz MR. A Jacob/Nsmf Gene Knockout Results in Hippocampal Dysplasia and Impaired BDNF Signaling in Dendritogenesis. PLoS Genet. 2016 Mar 15;12(3):e1005907Squire LR 2004. Memory systems of the brain: A brief history and current perspective. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, 82: 171-177

Sweatt JD. Neural plasticity and behavior - sixty years of conceptual advances. J Neurochem. 2016 Oct;139 Suppl 2:179-199. doi: 10.1111/jnc.13580. Review. PubMed PMID: 26875778.

Triviño-Paredes J, Patten AR, Gil-Mohapel J, Christie BR. The effects of hormones and physical exercise on hippocampal structural plasticity. Front Neuroendocrinol. 2016. 41:23-43.

Verret L, Mann EO, Hang GB, Barth AM, Cobos I, Ho K, Devidze N, Masliah E, Kreitzer AC, Mody I, Mucke L, Palop JJ. Inhibitory interneuron deficit links altered network activity and cognitive dysfunction in Alzheimer model. Cell. 2012Apr 27;149(3):708-21.

Wheeler SM, McAndrews MP, Sheard ED, Rovet J (2012) Visuospatial associative memory and hippocampal functioning in congenital hypothyroidism. J Int Neuropsychol Soc 18:49-56.

Wheeler SM, McLelland VC, Sheard E, McAndrews MP, Rovet JF (2015) Hippocampal Functioning and Verbal Associative Memory in Adolescents with Congenital Hypothyroidism. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne) 6:163.

Willoughby KA, McAndrews MP, Rovet JF (2014) Effects of maternal hypothyroidism on offspring hippocampus and memory. Thyroid 24:576-584.

Willoughby KA, McAndrews MP, Rovet J (2013) Effects of early thyroid hormone deficiency on children's autobiographical memory performance. J Int Neuropsychol Soc 19:419-429.