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Exp Brain Res. 2004 Mar;155(2):245-50. Epub 2003 Dec 10.

Vestibular influences on CA1 neurons in the rat hippocampus: an electrophysiological study in vivo.

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Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, School of Medical Sciences, University of Otago Medical School, Dunedin, New Zealand.


Vestibular information is known to be important for accurate spatial orientation and navigation. Hippocampal place cells, which appear to encode an animal's location within the environment, are also thought to play an essential role in spatial orientation. Therefore, it can be hypothesized that vestibular information may influence cornu ammonis region 1 (CA1) hippocampal neuronal activity. To explore this possibility, the effects of electrical stimulation of the medial vestibular nucleus (MVN) on the firing rates of hippocampal CA1 neurons in the urethane-anesthetized rat were investigated using extracellular single unit recordings. The firing rates of CA1 complex spike cells (n=29), which most likely correspond to place cells, consistently increased during electrical stimulation of the MVN in a current intensity dependent manner. Stimulation applied adjacent to the MVN failed to elicit a response. Overall, the firing rates of non-complex spike cells (n=22) did not show a consistent response to vestibular stimulation, although in some cells clear responses to the stimulation were observed. These findings suggest that vestibular inputs may contribute to spatial information processing in the hippocampus.

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