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Memory, navigation and theta rhythm in the hippocampal-entorhinal system

Abstract

Theories on the functions of the hippocampal system are based largely on two fundamental discoveries: the amnestic consequences of removing the hippocampus and associated structures in the famous patient H.M. and the observation that spiking activity of hippocampal neurons is associated with the spatial position of the rat. In the footsteps of these discoveries, many attempts were made to reconcile these seemingly disparate functions. Here we propose that mechanisms of memory and planning have evolved from mechanisms of navigation in the physical world and hypothesize that the neuronal algorithms underlying navigation in real and mental space are fundamentally the same. We review experimental data in support of this hypothesis and discuss how specific firing patterns and oscillatory dynamics in the entorhinal cortex and hippocampus can support both navigation and memory.

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Figure 1: Relationship between navigation and memory.
Figure 2: Grid cells and place cells.
Figure 3: Modular organization of the grid-cell network.
Figure 4: Cell assembly sequences, space and time tracking.
Figure 5: Theta oscillations link assembly sequences.
Figure 6: Cell assembly segregation role of theta oscillation.

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Acknowledgements

We thank G. Fishell for comments, Heather McKellar for assistance, and the US National Institutes of Health (NS34994; MH54671; NS 074015), International Human Frontiers Science Program Organization (RGP0032/2011), James S. McDonnell Foundation, Global Institute for Scientific Thinking, European Research Council ('CIRCUIT' Advanced Investigator Grant, Grant Agreement 232608), Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine, Kavli Foundation and Centre of Excellence scheme of the Research Council of Norway for support.

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Buzsáki, G., Moser, E. Memory, navigation and theta rhythm in the hippocampal-entorhinal system. Nat Neurosci 16, 130–138 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1038/nn.3304

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