Subcircuits of Deep and Superficial CA1 Place Cells Support Efficient Spatial Coding across Heterogeneous Environments.
ABSTRACT: The hippocampus is thought to guide navigation by forming a cognitive map of space. Different environments differ in geometry and the availability of cues that can be used for navigation. Although several spatial coding mechanisms are known to coexist in the hippocampus, how they are influenced by various environmental features is not well understood. To address this issue, we examined the spatial coding characteristics of hippocampal neurons in mice and rats navigating in different environments. We found that CA1 place cells located in the superficial sublayer were more active in cue-poor environments and preferentially used a firing rate code driven by intra-hippocampal inputs. In contrast, place cells located in the deep sublayer were more active in cue-rich environments and used a phase code driven by entorhinal inputs. Switching between these two spatial coding modes was supported by the interaction between excitatory gamma inputs and local inhibition.
Project description:Survival in complex environments necessitates a flexible navigation system that incorporates memory of recent behavior and associations. Yet, how the hippocampal spatial circuit represents latent information independent of sensory inputs and future goals has not been determined. To address this, we image the activity of large ensembles in subregion CA1 via wide-field fluorescent microscopy during a novel behavioral paradigm. Our results demonstrate that latent information is represented through reliable firing rate changes during unconstrained navigation. We then hypothesize that the representation of latent information in CA1 is mediated by pattern separation/completion processes instantiated upstream within the dentate gyrus (DG) and CA3 subregions. Indeed, CA3 ensemble recordings reveal an analogous code for latent information. Moreover, selective chemogenetic inactivation of DG-CA3 circuitry completely and reversibly abolishes the CA1 representation of latent information. These results reveal a causal and specific role of DG-CA3 circuitry in the maintenance of latent information within the hippocampus.
Project description:The hippocampal CA1 field processes spatial information, but the relative importance of intra- vs. extra-hippocampal sources of input into CA1 for spatial behavior is unclear. To characterize the relative roles of these two sources of input, originating in the hippocampal field CA3 and in the medial entorhinal cortex (MEC), we studied effects of discrete neurotoxic lesions of CA3 or MEC on concurrent spatial and nonspatial navigation tasks, and on synaptic transmission in afferents to CA1. Lesions in CA3 or MEC regions that abolished CA3-CA1, or reduced MEC-CA1 synaptic transmission, respectively, impaired spatial navigation and unexpectedly interfered with cue response, suggesting that in certain conditions of training regimen, hippocampal activity may influence behavior otherwise supported by nonhippocampal neural networks. MEC lesions had milder and temporary behavioral effects, but also markedly amplified transmission in the CA3-CA1 pathway. Extensive behavioral training had a similar, but more modest effect on CA3-CA1 transmission. Thus, cortical input to the hippocampus modulates CA1 activity both directly and indirectly, through heterosynaptic interaction, to control information flow in the hippocampal loop. Following damage to hippocampal cortical input, the functional coupling of separate intra- and extra-hippocampal inputs to CA1 involved in normal learning may initiate processes that support recovery of behavioral function. Such a process may explain how CA3 lesions, which do not significantly modify the basic features of CA1 neural activity, nonetheless impair spatial recall, whereas lesions of EC input to CA1, which reduce the spatial selectivity of CA1 firing in foraging rats, have only mild effects on spatial navigation.
Project description:Recent research indicates the hippocampus may code the distance to the goal during navigation of newly learned environments. It is unclear however, whether this also pertains to highly familiar environments where extensive systems-level consolidation is thought to have transformed mnemonic representations. Here we recorded fMRI while University College London and Imperial College London students navigated virtual simulations of their own familiar campus (>2 years of exposure) and the other campus learned days before scanning. Posterior hippocampal activity tracked the distance to the goal in the newly learned campus, as well as in familiar environments when the future route contained many turns. By contrast retrosplenial cortex only tracked the distance to the goal in the familiar campus. All of these responses were abolished when participants were guided to their goal by external cues. These results open new avenues of research on navigation and consolidation of spatial information and underscore the notion that the hippocampus continues to play a role in navigation when detailed processing of the environment is needed for navigation.
Project description:The interplay between hippocampus and prefrontal cortex (PFC) is fundamental to spatial cognition. Complementing hippocampal place coding, prefrontal representations provide more abstract and hierarchically organized memories suitable for decision making. We model a prefrontal network mediating distributed information processing for spatial learning and action planning. Specific connectivity and synaptic adaptation principles shape the recurrent dynamics of the network arranged in cortical minicolumns. We show how the PFC columnar organization is suitable for learning sparse topological-metrical representations from redundant hippocampal inputs. The recurrent nature of the network supports multilevel spatial processing, allowing structural features of the environment to be encoded. An activation diffusion mechanism spreads the neural activity through the column population leading to trajectory planning. The model provides a functional framework for interpreting the activity of PFC neurons recorded during navigation tasks. We illustrate the link from single unit activity to behavioral responses. The results suggest plausible neural mechanisms subserving the cognitive "insight" capability originally attributed to rodents by Tolman & Honzik. Our time course analysis of neural responses shows how the interaction between hippocampus and PFC can yield the encoding of manifold information pertinent to spatial planning, including prospective coding and distance-to-goal correlates.
Project description:During spatial navigation, animals use self-motion to estimate positions through path integration. However, estimation errors accumulate over time and it is unclear how they are corrected. Here we report a new cell class ('cue cell') encoding visual cues that could be used to correct errors in path integration in mouse medial entorhinal cortex (MEC). During virtual navigation, individual cue cells exhibited firing fields only near visual cues and their population response formed sequences repeated at each cue. These cells consistently responded to cues across multiple environments. On a track with cues on left and right sides, most cue cells only responded to cues on one side. During navigation in a real arena, they showed spatially stable activity and accounted for 32% of unidentified, spatially stable MEC cells. These cue cell properties demonstrate that the MEC contains a code representing spatial landmarks, which could be important for error correction during path integration.
Project description:The ability to remember and navigate spatial environments is critical for everyday life. A primary mechanism by which the brain represents space is through hippocampal place cells, which indicate when an animal is at a particular location. An important issue is understanding how the hippocampal place-cell network represents specific properties of the environment, such as signifying that a particular position is near a doorway or that another position is near the end of a corridor. The entorhinal cortex (EC), as the main input to the hippocampus, may play a key role in coding these properties because it contains neurons that activate at multiple related positions per environment. We examined the diversity of spatial coding across the human medial temporal lobe by recording neuronal activity during virtual navigation of an environment containing four similar paths. Neurosurgical patients performed this task as we recorded from implanted microelectrodes, allowing us to compare the human neuronal representation of space with that of animals. EC neurons activated in a repeating manner across the environment, with individual cells spiking at the same relative location across multiple paths. This finding indicates that EC cells represent non-specific information about location relative to an environment's geometry, unlike hippocampal place cells, which activate at particular random locations. Given that spatial navigation is considered to be a model of how the brain supports non-spatial episodic memory, these findings suggest that EC neuronal activity is used by the hippocampus to represent the properties of different memory episodes.
Project description:Sparse orthogonal coding is a key feature of hippocampal neural activity, which is believed to increase episodic memory capacity and to assist in navigation. Some retrosplenial cortex (RSC) neurons convey distributed spatial and navigational signals, but place-field representations such as observed in the hippocampus have not been reported. Combining cellular Ca<sup>2+</sup> imaging in RSC of mice with a head-fixed locomotion assay, we identified a population of RSC neurons, located predominantly in superficial layers, whose ensemble activity closely resembles that of hippocampal CA1 place cells during the same task. Like CA1 place cells, these RSC neurons fire in sequences during movement, and show narrowly tuned firing fields that form a sparse, orthogonal code correlated with location. RSC 'place' cell activity is robust to environmental manipulations, showing partial remapping similar to that observed in CA1. This population code for spatial context may assist the RSC in its role in memory and/or navigation.Neurons in the retrosplenial cortex (RSC) encode spatial and navigational signals. Here the authors use calcium imaging to show that, similar to the hippocampus, RSC neurons also encode place cell-like activity in a sparse orthogonal representation, partially anchored to the allocentric cues on the linear track.
Project description:Facial vibrissae, commonly known as whiskers, are the main sensitive tactile system in rodents. Whisker stimulation triggers neuronal activity that promotes neural plasticity in the barrel cortex (BC) and helps create spatial maps in the adult hippocampus. Moreover, activity-dependent inputs and calcium homeostasis modulate adult neurogenesis. Therefore, the neuronal activity of the BC possibly regulates hippocampal functions and neurogenesis. To assess whether tactile information from facial whiskers may modulate hippocampal functions and neurogenesis, we permanently eliminated whiskers in CD1 male mice and analyzed the effects in cellular composition, molecular expression and memory processing in the adult hippocampus. Our data indicated that the permanent deprivation of whiskers reduced in 4-fold the density of c-Fos+ cells (a calcium-dependent immediate early gene) in cornu ammonis subfields (CA1, CA2 and CA3) and 4.5-fold the dentate gyrus (DG). A significant reduction in the expression of calcium-binding proteincalbindin-D28k was also observed in granule cells of the DG. Notably, these changes coincided with an increase in apoptosis and a decrease in the proliferation of neural precursor cells in the DG, which ultimately reduced the number of Bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU)+NeuN+ mature neurons generated after whisker elimination. These abnormalities in the hippocampus were associated with a significant impairment of spatial memory and navigation skills. This is the first evidence indicating that tactile inputs from vibrissal follicles strongly modify the expression of c-Fos and calbindin in the DG, disrupt different aspects of hippocampal neurogenesis, and support the notion that spatial memory and navigation skills strongly require tactile information in the hippocampus.
Project description:Spatial learning, including encoding and retrieval of spatial memories as well as holding spatial information in working memory generally serving navigation under a broad range of circumstances, relies on a network of structures. While central to this network are medial temporal lobe structures with a widely appreciated crucial function of the hippocampus, neocortical areas such as the posterior parietal cortex and the retrosplenial cortex also play essential roles. Since the hippocampus receives its main subcortical input from the medial septum of the basal forebrain (BF) cholinergic system, it is not surprising that the potential role of the septo-hippocampal pathway in spatial navigation has been investigated in many studies. Much less is known of the involvement in spatial cognition of the parallel projection system linking the posterior BF with neocortical areas. Here we review the current state of the art of the division of labour within this complex 'navigation system', with special focus on how subcortical cholinergic inputs may regulate various aspects of spatial learning, memory and navigation.
Project description:The hippocampus has a well-documented role for spatial navigation across species, but its role for spatial memory in nonnavigational tasks is uncertain. In particular, when monkeys are tested in tasks that do not require navigation, spatial memory seems unaffected by lesions of the hippocampus. However, the interpretation of these results is compromised by long-term compensatory adaptation occurring in the days and weeks after lesions. To test the hypothesis that hippocampus is necessary for nonnavigational spatial memory, we selected a technique that avoids long-term compensatory adaptation. We transiently disrupted hippocampal function acutely at the time of testing by microinfusion of the glutamate receptor antagonist kynurenate. Animals were tested on a self-ordered spatial memory task, the Hamilton Search Task. In the task, animals are presented with an array of eight boxes, each containing a food reinforcer; one box may be opened per trial, with trials separated by a delay. Only the spatial location of the boxes serves as a cue to solve the task. The optimal strategy is to open each box once without returning to previously visited locations. Transient inactivation of hippocampus reduced performance to chance levels in a delay-dependent manner. In contrast, no deficits were seen when boxes were marked with nonspatial cues (color). These results clearly document a role for hippocampus in nonnavigational spatial memory in macaques and demonstrate the efficacy of pharmacological inactivation of this structure in this species. Our data bring the role of the hippocampus in monkeys into alignment with the broader framework of hippocampal function.