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Spike train dynamics predicts theta-related phase precession in hippocampal pyramidal cells

Naturevolume 417pages738741 (2002) | Download Citation



According to the temporal coding hypothesis1, neurons encode information by the exact timing of spikes. An example of temporal coding is the hippocampal phase precession phenomenon, in which the timing of pyramidal cell spikes relative to the theta rhythm shows a unidirectional forward precession during spatial behaviour2,3. Here we show that phase precession occurs in both spatial and non-spatial behaviours. We found that spike phase correlated with instantaneous discharge rate, and precessed unidirectionally at high rates, regardless of behaviour. The spatial phase precession phenomenon is therefore a manifestation of a more fundamental principle governing the timing of pyramidal cell discharge. We suggest that intrinsic properties of pyramidal cells have a key role in determining spike times, and that the interplay between the magnitude of dendritic excitation and rhythmic inhibition of the somatic region is responsible for the phase assignment of spikes4,5.

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This work was supported by the NIH and the Human Frontier Science Program.

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  1. Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, 197 University Avenue, Newark, New Jersey, 07102, USA

    • Kenneth D. Harris
    • , Darrell A. Henze
    • , Hajime Hirase
    • , Xavier Leinekugel
    • , George Dragoi
    • , Andras Czurkó
    •  & György Buzsáki


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The authors declare that they have no competing financial interests.

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Correspondence to György Buzsáki.

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