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Neuron. 2013 Apr 10;78(1):166-80. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2013.01.033. Epub 2013 Mar 21.

Dynamic reconfiguration of hippocampal interneuron circuits during spatial learning.

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MRC Anatomical Neuropharmacology Unit, Department of Pharmacology, University of Oxford, Mansfield Road, Oxford OX1 3TH, UK.


In the hippocampus, cell assemblies forming mnemonic representations of space are thought to arise as a result of changes in functional connections of pyramidal cells. We have found that CA1 interneuron circuits are also reconfigured during goal-oriented spatial learning through modification of inputs from pyramidal cells. As learning progressed, new pyramidal assemblies expressed in theta cycles alternated with previously established ones, and eventually overtook them. The firing patterns of interneurons developed a relationship to new, learning-related assemblies: some interneurons associated their activity with new pyramidal assemblies while some others dissociated from them. These firing associations were explained by changes in the weight of monosynaptic inputs received by interneurons from new pyramidal assemblies, as these predicted the associational changes. Spatial learning thus engages circuit modifications in the hippocampus that incorporate a redistribution of inhibitory activity that might assist in the segregation of competing pyramidal cell assembly patterns in space and time.

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