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J Neurophysiol. 2005 Jul;94(1):70-82. Epub 2005 Feb 23.

Encoding and retrieval in the CA3 region of the hippocampus: a model of theta-phase separation.

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Center for Biodynamics, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Boston University, 111 Cummington Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02215, USA.


Past research conducted by Hasselmo et al. in 2002 suggests that some fundamental tasks are better accomplished if memories are encoded and recovered during different parts of the theta cycle. A model of the CA3 subfield of the hippocampus is presented, using biophysical representations of the major cell types including pyramidal cells and two types of interneurons. Inputs to the network come from the septum and the entorhinal cortex (directly and by the dentate gyrus). A mechanism for parsing the theta rhythm into two epochs is proposed and simulated: in the first half, the strong, proximal input from the dentate to a subset of CA3 pyramidal cells and coincident, direct input from the entorhinal cortex to other pyramidal cells creates an environment for strengthening synapses between cells, thus encoding information. During the second half of theta, cueing signals from the entorhinal cortex, by the dentate, activate previously strengthened synapses, retrieving memories. Slow inhibitory neurons (O-LM cells) play a role in the disambiguation during retrieval. We compare and contrast our computational results with existing experimental data and other contemporary models.

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