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J Neurophysiol. 2003 Oct;90(4):2171-9. Epub 2003 Jun 18.

Watermaze learning enhances excitability of CA1 pyramidal neurons.

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Department of Physiology, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois 60611, USA.


The dorsal hippocampus is crucial for learning the hidden-platform location in the hippocampus-dependent, spatial watermaze task. We have previously demonstrated that the postburst afterhyperpolarization (AHP) of hippocampal pyramidal neurons is reduced after acquisition of the hippocampus-dependent, temporal trace eyeblink conditioning task. We report here that the AHP and one or more of its associated currents (IAHP and/or sIAHP) are reduced in dorsal hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons from rats that learned the watermaze task as compared with neurons from control rats. This reduction was a learning-induced phenomenon as the AHP of CA1 neurons from rats that failed to learn the hidden-platform location was similar to that of neurons from control rats. We propose that reduction of the AHP in pyramidal neurons in regions crucial for learning is a cellular mechanism of learning that is conserved across species and tasks.

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