Theses Doctoral

Direct Cortical Inputs to Hippocampal Area CA1 Transmit Complementary Signals for Goal-directed Navigation

Bowler, John

The entorhinal cortex (EC) is central to the brain’s navigation system. Its subregions are conventionally thought to compute dichotomous representations for spatial processing: medial entorhinal cortex (MEC) provides a global spatial map, while lateral entorhinal cortex (LEC) encodes specific sensory details of experience. While local recordings of EC circuits have amassed a vast catalogue of specialized cell types that could support navigational computations in the brain, we have little direct evidence for how these signals are actually transmitted outside of the EC to its primary downstream reader, the hippocampus, which itself is critical for the formation of spatial and episodic memories.

Here we exploit in vivo sub-cellular imaging to directly record from EC axon terminals as they locally innervate hippocampal area CA1, while mice performed navigation and spatial learning tasks in virtual reality. We find both distinct and overlapping representations of task, location, and context in both MEC and LEC axons. While MEC transmitted a highly location- and context-specific code, LEC inputs were strongly biased by ongoing navigational goals and reward. Surprisingly, the position of the animal could be accurately decoded from either entorhinal subregion. Our results challenge prevailing dogma on the routing of spatial and non-spatial information from the cortex to the hippocampus, indicating that cortical interactions upstream of the hippocampus are critical for combining these processing streams to support navigation and memory.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Neurobiology and Behavior
Thesis Advisors
Losonczy, Attila
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
March 29, 2023