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Neuron. 2008 Jan 24;57(2):303-13. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2007.11.035.

New experiences enhance coordinated neural activity in the hippocampus.

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Sloan-Swartz Center for Theoretical Neurobiology, W.M. Keck Center for Integrative Neuroscience, and Department of Physiology, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94143-0444, USA.


The acquisition of new memories for places and events requires synaptic plasticity in the hippocampus, and plasticity depends on temporal coordination among neurons. Spatial activity in the hippocampus is relatively disorganized during the initial exploration of a novel environment, however, and it is unclear how neural activity during the initial stages of learning drives synaptic plasticity. Here we show that pairs of CA1 cells that represent overlapping novel locations are initially more coactive and more precisely coordinated than are cells representing overlapping familiar locations. This increased coordination occurs specifically during brief, high-frequency events (HFEs) in the local field potential that are similar to ripples and is not associated with better coordination of place-specific neural activity outside of HFEs. As novel locations become more familiar, correlations between cell pairs decrease. Thus, hippocampal neural activity during learning has a unique structure that is well suited to induce synaptic plasticity and to allow for rapid storage of new memories.

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