Attention Enhances the Retrieval and Stability of Visuospatial and Olfactory Representations in the Dorsal Hippocampus

Muzzio, Isabel A.; Levita, Liat; Kulkarni, Jayant; Monaco, Joseph; Kentros, Clifford; Stead, Matthew; Abbott, Larry; Kandel, Eric

A key question in the analysis of hippocampal memory relates to how attention modulates the encoding and long-term retrieval of spatial and nonspatial representations in this region. To address this question, we recorded from single cells over a period of 5 days in the CA1 region of the dorsal hippocampus while mice acquired one of two goal-oriented tasks. These tasks required the animals to find a hidden food reward by attending to either the visuospatial environment or a particular odor presented in shifting spatial locations. Attention to the visuospatial environment increased the stability of visuospatial representations and phase locking to gamma oscillations—a form of neuronal synchronization thought to underlie the attentional mechanism necessary for processing task-relevant information. Attention to a spatially shifting olfactory cue compromised the stability of place fields and increased the stability of reward-associated odor representations, which were most consistently retrieved during periods of sniffing and digging when animals were restricted to the cup locations. Together, these results suggest that attention selectively modulates the encoding and retrieval of hippocampal representations by enhancing physiological responses to task-relevant information.


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December 21, 2015


Two corrected figures are included with this item.