Hippocampal CA1 place cells encode intended destination on a maze with multiple choice points


Ainge JA, Tamosiunaite M, Worgotter F & Dudchenko P (2007) Hippocampal CA1 place cells encode intended destination on a maze with multiple choice points. Journal of Neuroscience, 27 (36), pp. 9769-9779.

The hippocampus encodes both spatial and nonspatial aspects of a rat's ongoing behavior at the single-cell level. In this study, we examined the encoding of intended destination by hippocampal (CA1) place cells during performance of a serial reversal task on a double Y-maze. On the maze, rats had to make two choices to access one of four possible goal locations, two of which contained reward. Reward locations were kept constant within blocks of 10 trials but changed between blocks, and the session of each day comprised three or more trial blocks. A disproportionate number of place fields were observed in the start box and beginning stem of the maze, relative to other locations on the maze. Forty-six percent of these place fields had different firing rates on journeys to different goal boxes. Another group of cells had place fields before the second choice point, and, of these, 44% differentiated between journeys to specific goal boxes. In a second experiment, we observed that rats with hippocampal damage made significantly more errors than control rats on the Y-maze when reward locations were reversed. Together, these results suggest that, at the start of the maze, the hippocampus encodes both current location and the intended destination of the rat, and this encoding is necessary for the flexible response to changes in reinforcement contingencies.

Alternation; Decision; Hippocampus; place cells; spatial cognition; spatial memory; Spatial behavior; Space perception; Hippocampus (Brain); Memory; Animal navigation

Journal of Neuroscience: Volume 27, Issue 36

Publication date30/09/2007
PublisherSociety for Neuroscience