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Sensory integration in the hippocampal formation of pre- and post-weanling rats

Mussig, L; (2015) Sensory integration in the hippocampal formation of pre- and post-weanling rats. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

‘Place cells’ are hippocampal pyramidal neurons which fire only when an animal visits a particular location in an environment (‘place fields’). Their location-specific firing is supported by configurations of multi-modal sensory cues. Almost all work on place cells focused on the properties of these cells in adult rats. Recent work (Langston et al., 2010; Scott et al., 2011; Wills et al., 2010) however could identify place cells in the hippocampus of very young rat pups (ca. 2 weeks old), and furthermore show that these cells undergo a strong functional maturation in terms of their location-specific firing properties. In this thesis, we investigated when the configural integration of sensory information first emerges during the postnatal development of the hippocampus, by probing the response of place cells to manipulations of sensory cues in a familiar environment in pre- (aged 2-3 weeks) and post-weanling (aged 3-4 weeks) rat pups as well as in adult controls. These included changing certain parts of the local olfactory/tactile cues as well as removing visual cues. Recordings were also undertaken in a completely novel environment. These experiments will further our understanding about how the brain’s system for the representation of space develops and in particular will shed light on the question whether place cells in young rat pups are driven by single cues or already have configural properties as in adult rats. The results described in this thesis are compatible with the view that place cell responses recorded in very young rat pups already integrate multimodal cues, as in adults, suggesting that hippocampal spatial responses are inherently configural. However, some evidence points out to a stronger influence of local non-visual intra-maze cues early in development, while the influence of vision seems to increase across development. This could be due to the concurrent maturation of the sensory systems. In a novel environment, animals of all ages form a novel spatial representation, showing that even animals as old as 2 weeks can already distinguish between two distinct environments.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Sensory integration in the hippocampal formation of pre- and post-weanling rats
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences > Cell and Developmental Biology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences > Neuro, Physiology and Pharmacology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1465089
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