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Neuron. 2013 Mar 20;77(6):1163-73. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2013.01.027.

Hippocampal SWR activity predicts correct decisions during the initial learning of an alternation task.

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McGovern Institute for Brain Research and MIT Media Lab, MIT, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.


The hippocampus frequently replays memories of past experiences during sharp-wave ripple (SWR) events. These events can represent spatial trajectories extending from the animal's current location to distant locations, suggesting a role in the evaluation of upcoming choices. While SWRs have been linked to learning and memory, the specific role of awake replay remains unclear. Here we show that there is greater coordinated neural activity during SWRs preceding correct, as compared to incorrect, trials in a spatial alternation task. As a result, the proportion of cell pairs coactive during SWRs was predictive of subsequent correct or incorrect responses on a trial-by-trial basis. This effect was seen specifically during early learning, when the hippocampus is essential for task performance. SWR activity preceding correct trials represented multiple trajectories that included both correct and incorrect options. These results suggest that reactivation during awake SWRs contributes to the evaluation of possible choices during memory-guided decision making.

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