Deliberation is thought to involve the internal simulation of the outcomes of candidate actions, the valuation of those outcomes, and the selection of the actions with the highest expected value. While it is known that deliberation involves prefrontal cortical areas, specifically the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC), as well as the hippocampus (HPC) and other brain regions, how these areas process prospective information and select actions is not well understood. We recorded simultaneously from ensembles in dmPFC and CA1 of dorsal HPC in rats during performance of a spatial contingency switching task, and examined the relationships between spatial and reward encoding in these two areas during deliberation at the choice point. We found that CA1 and dmPFC represented either goal locations or the current position simultaneously, but that when goal locations were encoded, HPC and dmPFC did not always represent the same goal location. Ensemble activity in dmPFC predicted when HPC would represent goal locations, but on a broad timescale on the order of seconds. Also, reward encoding in dmPFC increased during hippocampal theta cycles where CA1 ensembles represented the goal location. These results suggest that dmPFC and HPC share prospective information during deliberation, that dmPFC may influence whether HPC represents prospective information, and that information recalled about goal locations by HPC may be integrated into dmPFC reward representations on fast timescales.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank Christopher Boldt, Kelsey Seeland, and Ayaka Sheehan for technical support and for building the tetrode drives, Christopher Boldt for building the silicon probe drives, Ayaka Sheehan for performing the histology, as well as Onni Rauhala and Daniel Min for help training rats. This work was funded by NSF IGERT Neuroengineering grant DGE-1069104, NIH R01-MH080318, and NIH R01-MH112688.
- dorsomedial prefrontal cortex
- spatial encoding