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Hippocampal neurons represent events as transferable units of experience


Authors: Chen Sun, Wannan Yang, Jared Martin & Susumu Tonegawa
Publication: Nature Neuroscience
Date: April 6, 2020
Link to article: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41593-020-0614-x?__hstc=91116613.b646e979daa4c…


The brain codes continuous spatial, temporal and sensory changes in daily experience. Recent studies suggest that the brain also tracks experience as segmented subdivisions (events), but the neural basis for encoding events remains unclear. Here, we designed a maze for mice, composed of four materially indistinguishable lap events, and identify hippocampal CA1 neurons whose activity are modulated not only by spatial location but also lap number. These ‘event-specific rate remapping’ (ESR) cells remain lap-specific even when the maze length is unpredictably altered within trials, which suggests that ESR cells treat lap events as fundamental units. The activity pattern of ESR cells is reused to represent lap events when the maze geometry is altered from square to circle, which suggests that it helps transfer knowledge between experiences. ESR activity is separately manipulable from spatial activity, and may therefore constitute an independent hippocampal code: an ‘event code’ dedicated to organizing experience by events as discrete and transferable units.

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