Vector Trace cells in the Subiculum of the Hippocampal formation

Nature Neuroscience(2019)

Cited 36|Views14
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Successfully navigating in physical or semantic space requires a neural representation of allocentric (map-based) vectors to boundaries, objects, and goals. Cognitive processes such as path-planning and imagination entail recall of vector representations, but evidence of neuron-level memory for allocentric vectors has been lacking. Here we describe a novel neuron type (Vector Trace cell, VTC) whose firing generates a new vector field when a cue is encountered, and also a ‘trace’ version of that field for hours after cue removal. VTCs are concentrated in subiculum distal to CA1. Compared to non-trace cells, VTCs fire at further distances from cues, and exhibit earlier-going shifts in preferred theta phase in response to newly introduced cues, demonstrating a theta-linked neural substrate for memory encoding. VTCs suggest a vector-based model of computing spatial relationships between an agent and multiple spatial objects, or between different objects, freed from the constraints of direct perception of those objects.
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