Theses Doctoral

The Role of Hippocampus in Signal Processing and Memory

Kushnir, Lyudmila

Historically, there have been two lines of research on mammalian hippocampus. The first one is concerned with the role of hippocampus in formations of new memories and owes its origin to the seminal study by Brenda Milner and William Scoville of a single memory disorder patient, widely known as H.M. The second line of research views the hippocampus as the brain area concerned with orienting and navigating in space. It started with John O’Keefe’s discovery of place cells, pyramidal neurons in the CA3 area of hippocampus, that fire when the animal enters a particular place in its environment.
I argue that both lines of discoveries seem to be consistent with a more general view of hippocampus as a brain area strongly involved in the integration of sensory, and possibly internal, information.
The first part of the thesis presents an investigation of the effect of limited connectivity constraint on the model network in the framework of pattern classification. It is shown that feed-forward neural classifiers with numerous long range connections can be replaced by networks with sparse feed-forward connectivity and local recurrent connectivity without sacrificing the classification performance. The limited connectivity constraint is relevant for most biological networks, and especially for the hippocampus.
The second part describes a decoding analysis from the calcium signal recorded in mouse dentate gyrus. The animal’s position can be decoded with approximately 10cm accuracy and the neural representation of position in the dentate gyrus have close to maximal dimensionality. The analysis also suggests that cells with single firing field and cells with multiple firing fields contribute approximately equal amount of information to the decoder.


  • thumnail for Kushnir_columbia_0054D_13406.pdf Kushnir_columbia_0054D_13406.pdf application/pdf 3.84 MB Download File

More About This Work

Academic Units
Neurobiology and Behavior
Thesis Advisors
Fusi, Stefano
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
June 3, 2016