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PLoS Biol. 2016 Feb 18;14(2):e1002384. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1002384. eCollection 2016 Feb.

Coherence between Rat Sensorimotor System and Hippocampus Is Enhanced during Tactile Discrimination.

Author information

1
Tactile Perception and Learning Lab, International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA), Trieste, Italy.

Abstract

Rhythms with time scales of multiple cycles per second permeate the mammalian brain, yet neuroscientists are not certain of their functional roles. One leading idea is that coherent oscillation between two brain regions facilitates the exchange of information between them. In rats, the hippocampus and the vibrissal sensorimotor system both are characterized by rhythmic oscillation in the theta range, 5-12 Hz. Previous work has been divided as to whether the two rhythms are independent or coherent. To resolve this question, we acquired three measures from rats--whisker motion, hippocampal local field potential (LFP), and barrel cortex unit firing--during a whisker-mediated texture discrimination task and during control conditions (not engaged in a whisker-mediated memory task). Compared to control conditions, the theta band of hippocampal LFP showed a marked increase in power as the rats approached and then palpated the texture. Phase synchronization between whisking and hippocampal LFP increased by almost 50% during approach and texture palpation. In addition, a greater proportion of barrel cortex neurons showed firing that was phase-locked to hippocampal theta while rats were engaged in the discrimination task. Consistent with a behavioral consequence of phase synchronization, the rats identified the texture more rapidly and with lower error likelihood on trials in which there was an increase in theta-whisking coherence at the moment of texture palpation. These results suggest that coherence between the whisking rhythm, barrel cortex firing, and hippocampal LFP is augmented selectively during epochs in which the rat collects sensory information and that such coherence enhances the efficiency of integration of stimulus information into memory and decision-making centers.

PMID:
26890254
PMCID:
PMC4758608
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pbio.1002384
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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