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Hippocampus. 2012 Apr;22(4):737-47. doi: 10.1002/hipo.20936. Epub 2011 Apr 27.

Greater running speeds result in altered hippocampal phase sequence dynamics.

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Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute, Tucson, Arizona, USA.


Hebb (1949) described a "phase sequence" to be the sequential activation of sets of cell assemblies. Within the hippocampus, cell assemblies have been described as groups of coactive neurons whose place fields overlap. Membership of assemblies in a phase sequence changes systematically as a rat travels through an environment, serving to accelerate the temporal order that place fields are encountered during a single theta cycle. This sweeping forward of network activity ("look ahead"), results in locations in front of the animal being transiently represented. In this experiment, a population vector-based reconstruction method was used to capture the look ahead and reveals that the composition of the phase sequence changes with velocity, such that more cell assemblies are active within a theta cycle at higher running speeds. These results are consistent with hypotheses suggesting that hippocampal networks generate short time scale predictions of future events to optimize behavior.

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