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Neuron. 2006 Apr 6;50(1):145-57.

Temporal encoding of place sequences by hippocampal cell assemblies.

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Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Newark, New Jersey 07102, USA.


Both episodic memory and spatial navigation require temporal encoding of the relationships between events or locations. In a linear maze, ordered spatial distances between sequential locations were represented by the temporal relations of hippocampal place cell pairs within cycles of theta oscillation in a compressed manner. Such correlations could arise due to spike "phase precession" of independent neurons driven by common theta pacemaker or as a result of temporal coordination among specific hippocampal cell assemblies. We found that temporal correlation between place cell pairs was stronger than predicted by a pacemaker drive of independent neurons, indicating a critical role for synaptic interactions and precise timing within and across cell assemblies in place sequence representation. CA1 and CA3 ensembles, identifying spatial locations, were active preferentially on opposite phases of theta cycles. These observations suggest that interleaving CA3 neuronal sequences bind CA1 assemblies representing overlapping past, present, and future locations into single episodes.

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