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Relative contributions of CA3 and medial entorhinal cortex to memory in rats

DOI: 10.3389/fnbeh.2014.00292

Keywords: CA3, medial entorhinal cortex, spatial memory, Schaffer collaterals, temporo-ammonic pathway

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Abstract:

The hippocampal CA1 field processes spatial information, but the relative importance of intra- vs. extra-hippocampal sources of input into CA1 for spatial behavior is unclear. To characterize the relative roles of these two sources of input, originating in the hippocampal field CA3 and in the medial entorhinal cortex (MEC), we studied effects of discrete neurotoxic lesions of CA3 or MEC on concurrent spatial and nonspatial navigation tasks, and on synaptic transmission in afferents to CA1. Lesions in CA3 or MEC regions that abolished CA3-CA1, or reduced MEC-CA1 synaptic transmission, respectively, impaired spatial navigation and unexpectedly interfered with cue response, suggesting that in certain conditions of training regimen, hippocampal activity may influence behavior otherwise supported by nonhippocampal neural networks. MEC lesions had milder and temporary behavioral effects, but also markedly amplified transmission in the CA3-CA1 pathway. Extensive behavioral training had a similar, but more modest effect on CA3-CA1 transmission. Thus, cortical input to the hippocampus modulates CA1 activity both directly and indirectly, through heterosynaptic interaction, to control information flow in the hippocampal loop. Following damage to hippocampal cortical input, the functional coupling of separate intra- and extra-hippocampal inputs to CA1 involved in normal learning may initiate processes that support recovery of behavioral function. Such a process may explain how CA3 lesions, which do not significantly modify the basic features of CA1 neural activity, nonetheless impair spatial recall, whereas lesions of EC input to CA1, which reduce the spatial selectivity of CA1 firing in foraging rats, have only mild effects on spatial navigation.

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