Editor's Summary

15 October 2009

Place cells know their place


As we move around, spatial information is encoded and processed by 'place' cells in the hippocampus. Each of these neurons increases its firing rate when situated in its 'place', thus equating rate coding with location. The firing patterns of hippocampal place cells have been studied extensively over the past 40 years and theoretical models have been proposed to explain the mechanisms responsible for encoding place and time in neural circuits. Now the development of techniques allowing intracellular recording from place cells in awake, behaving mice navigating a virtual reality maze makes it possible to test these models. Initial results point to the existence of two subthreshold signatures of place fields: an increase in the amplitude of membrane potential oscillations at theta frequencies and a ramp-like depolarization of baseline membrane potential.

News and ViewsNeuroscience: The inside story on place cells

Neurons known as place cells encode spatial information that is needed to guide an animal's movement. Nearly 40 years after these cells were discovered, neuroscience gets a look at their internal dynamics.

Douglas Nitz

doi:10.1038/461889a

ArticleIntracellular dynamics of hippocampal place cells during virtual navigation

Christopher D. Harvey, Forrest Collman, Daniel A. Dombeck & David W. Tank

doi:10.1038/nature08499