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Publication Detail
Place cell networks in pre-weanling rats show associative memory properties from the onset of exploratory behaviour.
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Publication Sub Type:
  • Authors:
    Muessig L, Hauser , Wills TJ, Cacucci F
  • Publisher:
    Oxford University Press (OUP): Policy B
  • Publication date:
  • Journal:
    Cerebral Cortex
  • Print ISSN:
  • Keywords:
    hippocampus, place cell, development, spatial navigation
  • Addresses:
    Francesca Cacucci
    University College London
    Neuroscience, Physiology and Pharmacology
    United Kingdom
Place cells are hippocampal pyramidal cells which are active when an animal visits a restricted area of the environment, and collectively their activity constitutes a neural representation of space. Place cell populations in the adult rat hippocampus display fundamental properties consistent with an associative memory network: the ability to: a) generate new and distinct spatial firing patterns when encountering novel spatial contexts or changes in sensory input (‘remapping’), b) re-instate previously stored firing patterns when encountering a familiar context, including on the basis of an incomplete/degraded set of sensory cues (‘pattern completion’). To date, it is unknown when these spatial memory responses emerge during brain development. Here we show that, from the age of first exploration (post-natal day 16) onwards, place cell populations already exhibit these key features: they generate new representations upon exposure to a novel context, and can re-activate familiar representations on the basis of an incomplete set of sensory cues. These results demonstrate that, as early as exploratory behaviours emerge, and despite the absence of an adult-like grid cell network, the developing hippocampus processes incoming sensory information as an associative memory network.
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