Lateral Entorhinal Neurons are not Spatially Selective in Cue-Rich Environments

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Abstract

The hippocampus is a brain region that is critical for spatial learning, context-dependent memory, and episodic memory. It receives major inputs from the medial entorhinal cortex (MEC) and the lateral EC (LEC). MEC neurons show much greater spatial firing than LEC neurons in a recording chamber with a single, salient landmark. The MEC cells are thought to derive their spatial tuning through path integration, which permits spatially selective firing in such a cue-deprived environment. In accordance with theories that postulate two spatial mapping systems that provide input to the hippocampus—an internal, path-integration system and an external, landmark-based system—it was possible that LEC neurons can also convey a spatial signal, but that the signal requires multiple landmarks to define locations, rather than movement integration. To test this hypothesis, neurons from the MEC and LEC were recorded as rats foraged for food in cue-rich environments. In both environments, LEC neurons showed little spatial specificity, whereas many MEC neurons showed a robust spatial signal. These data strongly support the notion that the MEC and LEC convey fundamentally different types of information to the hippocampus, in terms of their spatial firing characteristics, under various environmental and behavioral conditions. © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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