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Nat Commun. 2015 Oct 12;6:8521. doi: 10.1038/ncomms9521.

Theta oscillations regulate the speed of locomotion via a hippocampus to lateral septum pathway.

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Behavioural Neurodynamics Group, Leibniz-Institut für Molekulare Pharmakologie (FMP), Robert-Rössle-Street 10, Berlin 13125, Germany.
NeuroCure Cluster of Excellence, Charité Universitätsmedizin, Charitéplatz 1, Virchowweg 6, CCO, Berlin 10117, Germany.


Hippocampal theta oscillations support encoding of an animal's position during spatial navigation, yet longstanding questions about their impact on locomotion remain unanswered. Combining optogenetic control of hippocampal theta oscillations with electrophysiological recordings in mice, we show that hippocampal theta oscillations regulate locomotion. In particular, we demonstrate that their regularity underlies more stable and slower running speeds during exploration. More regular theta oscillations are accompanied by more regular theta-rhythmic spiking output of pyramidal cells. Theta oscillations are coordinated between the hippocampus and its main subcortical output, the lateral septum (LS). Chemo- or optogenetic inhibition of this pathway reveals its necessity for the hippocampal regulation of running speed. Moreover, theta-rhythmic stimulation of LS projections to the lateral hypothalamus replicates the reduction of running speed induced by more regular hippocampal theta oscillations. These results suggest that changes in hippocampal theta synchronization are translated into rapid adjustment of running speed via the LS.

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