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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2000 Mar 28;97(7):3771-6.

Understanding hippocampal activity by using purposeful behavior: place navigation induces place cell discharge in both task-relevant and task-irrelevant spatial reference frames.

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  • 1Institute of Physiology, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, 1083 Videnska, Prague 4, 14220, Czech Republic.


Continuous rotation of an arena in a cue-rich room dissociates the stationary room-bound information from the rotating arena-bound information. This disrupted spatial discharge in the majority of place cells from rats trained to collect randomly scattered food. In contrast, most place cell firing patterns recorded from rats trained to solve a navigation task on the rotating arena were preserved during the rotation. Spatial discharge was preserved in both the task-relevant stationary and the task-irrelevant rotating reference frames, but firing was more organized in the task-relevant frame. It is concluded that, (i) the effects of environmental manipulations can be understood with confidence only when the rat's purposeful behavior is used to formulate interpretations of the data, and (ii) hippocampal place cell activity is organized in multiple overlapping spatial reference frames.

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