Synaptic integrative mechanisms for spatial cognition


Synaptic integrative mechanisms have profound effects on electrical signaling in the brain that, although largely hidden from recording methods that observe the spiking activity of neurons, may be critical for the encoding, storage and retrieval of information. Here we review roles for synaptic integrative mechanisms in the selection, generation and plasticity of place and grid fields, and in related temporal codes for the representation of space. We outline outstanding questions and challenges in the testing of hypothesized models for spatial computation and memory.

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Figure 1: Membrane potential ramp and intracellular phase precession during place and grid field crossings.
Figure 2: Excitability and place cell selection.
Figure 3: Candidate models of nonlinear integration during firing field crossings.
Figure 4: A comparison of the effects of local inhibition on visual and spatial receptive fields.
Figure 5: Theta resonant responses of hippocampal neurons.


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We thank N. Rochefort and G. Sürmeli for comments on the manuscript, A. Lee for sharing data before publication (ref. 26), and G. Buzsáki and E. Stark for sharing material for the generation of figures. This work was funded in part by the BBSRC (grants BB/M025454/1 and BB/L010496/1 to M.F.N.), the Human Frontiers Science Program (grant RGP0062/2014 to M.F.N.), the Wellcome Trust (grant 200855/Z/16/Z to M.F.N.), the Simons Initiative for the Developing Brain (M.F.N.) and the ERC (grant StG 678790 NEWRON to C.S.-H.).

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Correspondence to Christoph Schmidt-Hieber or Matthew F Nolan.

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Schmidt-Hieber, C., Nolan, M. Synaptic integrative mechanisms for spatial cognition. Nat Neurosci 20, 1483–1492 (2017).

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