Different CA1 and CA3 Representations of Novel Routes in a Shortcut Situation


  • Alvernhe Alice
  • van Cauter Tiffany
  • Save Etienne
  • Poucet Bruno


  • Spatial cognition
  • Rat
  • Place cells
  • Spatial processing
  • Hippocampus
  • Unit recordings

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Place cells are hippocampal neurons whose discharge is strongly related to a rat's location in its environment. The existence of place cells has led to the proposal that they are part of an integrated neural system dedicated to spatial navigation. To further understand the relationships between place cell firing and spatial problem solving, we examined the discharge of CA1 and CA3 place cells as rats were exposed to a shortcut in a runway maze. On specific sessions, a wall section of the maze was removed so as to open a shorter novel route within the otherwise familiar maze. We found that the discharge of both CA1 and CA3 cells was strongly affected in the vicinity of the shortcut region but was much less affected farther away. In addition, CA3 fields away from the shortcut were more altered than CA1 fields. Thus, place cell firing appears to reflect more than just the animal's spatial location and may provide additional information about possible motions, or routes, within the environment. This kinematic representation appears to be spatially more extended in CA3 than in CA1, suggesting interesting computational differences between the two subregions.

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