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PLoS Biol. 2005 Dec;3(12):e402. Epub 2005 Nov 15.

Theta rhythms coordinate hippocampal-prefrontal interactions in a spatial memory task.

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The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, RIKEN-MIT Neuroscience Research Center, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.


Decision-making requires the coordinated activity of diverse brain structures. For example, in maze-based tasks, the prefrontal cortex must integrate spatial information encoded in the hippocampus with mnemonic information concerning route and task rules in order to direct behavior appropriately. Using simultaneous tetrode recordings from CA1 of the rat hippocampus and medial prefrontal cortex, we show that correlated firing in the two structures is selectively enhanced during behavior that recruits spatial working memory, allowing the integration of hippocampal spatial information into a broader, decision-making network. The increased correlations are paralleled by enhanced coupling of the two structures in the 4- to 12-Hz theta-frequency range. Thus the coordination of theta rhythms may constitute a general mechanism through which the relative timing of disparate neural activities can be controlled, allowing specialized brain structures to both encode information independently and to interact selectively according to current behavioral demands.

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