Perirhinal firing patterns are sustained across large spatial segments of the task environment

Authors: Jeroen J. Bos, Martin Vinck, Laura A. van Mourik-Donga, Jadin C. Jackson, Menno P. Witter, Cyriel M. A. Pennartz


Spatial navigation and memory depend on the neural coding of an organismís location. Fine-grained coding of location is thought to depend on the hippocampus. Likewise, animals benefit from knowledge parsing their environment into larger spatial segments, which are relevant for task performance. Here we investigate how such knowledge may be coded, and whether this occurs in structures in the temporal lobe, supplying cortical inputs to the hippocampus. We found that neurons in the perirhinal cortex of rats generate sustained firing patterns that discriminate large segments of the task environment. This contrasted to transient firing in hippocampus and sensory neocortex. These spatially extended patterns were not explained by task variables or temporally discrete sensory stimuli. Previously it has been suggested that the perirhinal cortex is part of a pathway processing object, but not spatial information. Our results indicate a greater complexity of neural coding than captured by this dichotomy.

Source: Nature Communications; 2017, 8: 15602