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Role of the hippocampus in goal representation : Insights from behavioural and electrophysiological approaches

Duvelle, E; (2014) Role of the hippocampus in goal representation : Insights from behavioural and electrophysiological approaches. Doctoral thesis , Université Pierre et Marie Curie. Green open access

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Abstract

The hippocampus plays an important role in spatial cognition, as supported by the location-specific firing of hippocampal place cells. In random foraging tasks, each place cell fires at a specific position (‘place field’) while other hippocampal pyramidal neurons remain silent. A recent study evidenced a reliable extra-field activity in most CA1 place cells of rats waiting for reward delivery in an uncued goal zone. While the location-specific activity of place cells is thought to underlie a flexible representation of space, the nature of this goal-related signal remains unclear. To test whether hippocampal goal-related activity reflects a representation of goal location or a reward-related signal, we designed a two-goal navigation task in which rats were free to choose between two uncued spatial goals to receive a reward. The magnitude of reward associated to each goal zone was modulated, therefore changing the goal value. We recorded CA1 and CA3 unit activity from rats performing this task. Behaviourally, rats were able to remember each goal location and flexibly adapt their choices to goal values. Electrophysiological data showed that a large majority of CA1-CA3 place and silent cells expressed goal-related activity. This activity was independent from goal value and rats’ behavioural choices. Importantly, a large proportion of cells expressed a goal-related activity at one goal zone only. Altogether, our findings suggest that the hippocampus processes and stores relevant information about the spatial characteristics of the goal. This goal representation could be used in cooperation with structures involved in decision-making to optimise goal-directed navigation.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Role of the hippocampus in goal representation : Insights from behavioural and electrophysiological approaches
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Keywords: Hippocampus, rat, place cell, silent cell, goal value
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 Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Experimental Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1469082
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