Distribution of spatial and nonspatial information in dorsal hippocampus

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Abstract

The hippocampus in the mammalian brain is required for the encoding of current and the retention of past experience. Previous studies have shown that the hippocampus contains neurons that encode information required to perform spatial and nonspatial short-term memory tasks. A more detailed understanding of the functional anatomy of the hippocampus would provide important insight into how such encoding occurs. Here we show that hippocampal neurons in the rat are distributed anatomically in distinct segments along the length of the hippocampus. Each longitudinal segment contains clusters of neurons that become active when the animal performs a task with spatial attributes. Within these same segments are ordered arrangements of neurons that encode the nonspatial aspects of the task appropriate to those spatial features. Thus, anatomical segregation of spatial information, together with the interleaved representation of nonspatial information, represents a structural framework that may help to resolve conflicting views of hippocampal function.

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Figure 1: Multi-electrode recording during delayed-nonmatch-to-sample (DNMS) task.
Figure 2: Anatomical localization of cell firing correlates.
Figure 3: Distribution of conjunctive and trial-type cells mapped onto position and phase cell gradients shown in Fig. 2c.

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Acknowledgements

We thank D. Byrd, J. Konstantopoulos, J. Brooks and T. Bunn for technical assistance. This work was supported by the NIDA and NIMH.

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Correspondence to Sam A. Deadwyler.

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Hampson, R., Simeral, J. & Deadwyler, S. Distribution of spatial and nonspatial information in dorsal hippocampus. Nature 402, 610–614 (1999) doi:10.1038/45154

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