|Increased variability and asymmetric expansion of the spatial representation of the hippocampal neuronal population in a distal cue-dependent memory task.|
|Year of publication||2016|
|Title of paper||Increased variability and asymmetric expansion of the spatial representation of the hippocampal neuronal population in a distal cue-dependent memory task.|
|Author||Park, S.B. and and Lee, I.|
|Publication in journal||Hippocampus|
|Status of publication||published|
DATE : 2017-06-06 16:59:24
Place cells in the hippocampus fire at specific positions in space, and distal cues in the environment play critical roles in determining the spatial firing patterns of place cells. Many studies have shown that place fields are influenced by distal cues in foraging animals. However, it is largely unknown whether distal-cue-dependent changes in place fields appear in different ways in a memory task if distal cues bear direct significance to achieving goals. We investigated this possibility in this study. Rats were trained to choose different spatial positions in a radial arm in association with distal cue configurations formed by visual cue sets attached to movable curtains around the apparatus. The animals were initially trained to associate readily discernible distal cue configurations (08 vs. 808 angular separation between distal cue sets) with different food-well positions and then later experienced ambiguous cue configurations (148 and 668) intermixed with the original cue configurations. Rats showed no difficulty in transferring the associated memory formed for the original cue configurations when similar cue configurations were presented. Place field positions remained at the same locations across different cue configurations, whereas stability and coherence of spatial firing patterns were signifi- cantly disrupted when ambiguous cue configurations were introduced. Furthermore, the spatial representation was extended backward and skewed more negatively at the population level when processing ambiguous cue configurations, compared with when processing the original cue configurations only. This effect was more salient for large cueseparation conditions than for small cue-separation conditions. No significant rate remapping was observed across distal cue configurations. These findings suggest that place cells in the hippocampus dynamically change their detailed firing characteristics in response to a modified cue environment and that some of the firing properties previously reported in a foraging task might carry more functional weight than others when tested in a distal-cue-dependent memory task.