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J Neurophysiol. 2010 Aug;104(2):994-1006. doi: 10.1152/jn.01141.2009. Epub 2010 May 26.

Theta modulation in the medial and the lateral entorhinal cortices.

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Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, University of Texas Medical School at Houston, Houston, Texas, USA.


Hippocampal neurons show a strong modulation by theta frequency oscillations. This modulation is thought to be important not only for temporal encoding and decoding of information in the hippocampal system, but also for temporal ordering of neuronal activities on timescales at which physiological mechanisms of synaptic plasticity operate. The medial entorhinal cortex (MEC), one of the two major cortical inputs to the hippocampus, is known to show theta modulation. Here, we show that the local field potentials (LFPs) in the other major cortical input to the hippocampus, the lateral entorhinal cortex (LEC), show weaker theta oscillations than those shown in the MEC. Neurons in LEC also show weaker theta modulation than that of neurons in MEC. These findings suggest that LEC inputs are integrated into hippocampal representations in a qualitatively different manner than the MEC inputs. Furthermore, MEC grid cells increase the scale of their periodic spatial firing patterns along the dorsoventral axis, corresponding to the increasing size of place fields along the septotemporal axis of the hippocampus. We show here a corresponding gradient in the tendency of MEC neural firing to skip alternate theta cycles. We propose a simple model based on interference of delta oscillations with theta oscillations to explain this behavior.

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