Theta phase precession in rat ventral striatum links place and reward information

Matthijs A.A. Van Der Meer, A. David Redish

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    144 Scopus citations


    A functional interaction between the hippocampal formation and the ventral striatum is thought to contribute to the learning and expression of associations between places and rewards. However, the mechanism of how such associations may be learned and used is currently unknown. We recorded neural ensembles and local field potentials from the ventral striatum and CA1 simultaneously as rats ran a modified T-maze. Theta-modulated cells in ventral striatum almost invariably showed firing phase precession relative to the hippocampal theta rhythm. Across the population of ventral striatal cells, phase precession was preferentially associated with an anticipatory ramping of activity up to the reward sites. In contrast, CA1 population activity and phase precession were distributed more uniformly. Ventral striatal phase precession was stronger to hippocampal than ventral striatal theta and was accompanied by increased theta coherence with hippocampus, suggesting that this effect is hippocampally derived. These results suggest that the firing phase of ventral striatal neurons contains motivationally relevant information and that phase precession serves to bind hippocampal place representations to ventral striatal representations of reward.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)2843-2854
    Number of pages12
    JournalJournal of Neuroscience
    Issue number8
    StatePublished - Feb 23 2011


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