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Cell. 1996 Dec 27;87(7):1339-49.

Impaired hippocampal representation of space in CA1-specific NMDAR1 knockout mice.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Center for Learning and Memory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge 02139, USA.


To investigate the role of synaptic plasticity in the place-specific firing of the hippocampus, we have applied multiple electrode recording techniques to freely behaving mice with a CA1 pyramidal cell-specific knockout of the NMDAR1 gene. We have discovered that although the CA1 pyramidal cells of these mice retain place-related activity, there is a significant decrease in the spatial specificity of individual place fields. We have also found a striking deficit in the coordinated firing of pairs of neurons tuned to similar spatial locations. Pairs have uncorrelated firing even if their fields overlap. These results demonstrate that NMDA receptor-mediated synaptic plasticity is necessary for the proper representation of space in the CA1 region of the hippocampus.

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