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Theta phase precession of grid and place cell firing in open environments.

Jeewajee, A. and Barry, C. and Douchamps, V. and Manson, D. and Lever, C. and Burgess, N. (2014) 'Theta phase precession of grid and place cell firing in open environments.', Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society B : biological sciences., 369 (1635). p. 20120532.


Place and grid cells in the rodent hippocampal formation tend to fire spikes at successively earlier phases relative to the local field potential theta rhythm as the animal runs through the cell's firing field on a linear track. However, this ‘phase precession’ effect is less well characterized during foraging in two-dimensional open field environments. Here, we mapped runs through the firing fields onto a unit circle to pool data from multiple runs. We asked which of seven behavioural and physiological variables show the best circular–linear correlation with the theta phase of spikes from place cells in hippocampal area CA1 and from grid cells from superficial layers of medial entorhinal cortex. The best correlate was the distance to the firing field peak projected onto the animal's current running direction. This was significantly stronger than other correlates, such as instantaneous firing rate and time-in-field, but similar in strength to correlates with other measures of distance travelled through the firing field. Phase precession was stronger in place cells than grid cells overall, and robust phase precession was seen in traversals through firing field peripheries (although somewhat less than in traversals through the centre), consistent with phase coding of displacement along the current direction. This type of phase coding, of place field distance ahead of or behind the animal, may be useful for allowing calculation of goal directions during navigation.

Item Type:Article
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Publisher statement:© 2013 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.
Date accepted:20 December 2013
Date deposited:19 January 2017
Date of first online publication:05 February 2014
Date first made open access:19 January 2017

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