Coding for spatial goals in the prelimbicinfralimbic area of the rat frontal cortex


  • Hok V.
  • Save E.
  • Lenck-Santini P. P.
  • Poucet B.

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Finding one's way in space requires a distributed neural network to support accurate spatial navigation. In the rat, this network likely includes the hippocampus and its place cells. Although such cells allow the organism to locate itself in the environment, an additional mechanism is required to specify the animal's goal. Here, we show that firing activity of neurons in medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) reflects the motivational salience of places. We recorded mPFC neurons from rats performing a place navigation task, and found that a substantial proportion of cells in the prelimbicinfralimbic area had place fields. A much smaller proportion of cells with such properties was found in the dorsal anterior cingulate area. Furthermore, the distribution of place fields in prelimbicinfralimbic cells was not homogeneous: goal locations were overrepresented. Because such locations were spatially dissociated from rewards, we suggest that mPFC neurons might be responsible for encoding the rat's goals, a process necessary for path planning. goal coding place navigation unit recording

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