Directional hippocampal-prefrontal interactions during working memory

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Working memory refers to a system that is essential for performing complex cognitive tasks such as reasoning, comprehension and learning. Evidence shows that hippocampus (HPC) and prefrontal cortex (PFC) play important roles in working memory. The HPC-PFC interaction via theta-band oscillatory synchronization is critical for successful execution of working memory. However, whether one brain region is leading or lagging relative to another is still unclear. Therefore, in the present study, we simultaneously recorded local field potentials (LFPs) from rat ventral hippocampus (vHPC) and medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and while the rats performed a Y-maze working memory task. We then applied instantaneous amplitudes cross-correlation method to calculate the time lag between PFC and vHPC to explore the functional dynamics of the HPC-PFC interaction. Our results showed a strong lead from vHPC to mPFC preceded an animal's correct choice during the working memory task. These findings suggest the vHPC-leading interaction contributes to the successful execution of working memory.

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