Bachelor of Arts, Harvard University (2012)
Doctor of Philosophy, University of California San Francisco (2019)
Lisa Giocomo, Postdoctoral Faculty Sponsor
Cognitive faculties such as imagination, planning, and decision-making entail the ability to represent hypothetical experience. Crucially, animal behavior in natural settings implies that the brain can represent hypothetical future experience not only quickly but also constantly over time, as external events continually unfold. To determine how this is possible, we recorded neural activity in the hippocampus of rats navigating a maze with multiple spatial paths. We found neural activity encoding two possible future scenarios (two upcoming maze paths) in constant alternation at 8 Hz: one scenario per ∼125-ms cycle. Further, we found that the underlying dynamics of cycling (both inter- and intra-cycle dynamics) generalized across qualitatively different representational correlates (location and direction). Notably, cycling occurred across moving behaviors, including during running. These findings identify a general dynamic process capable of quickly and continually representing hypothetical experience, including that of multiple possible futures.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.cell.2020.01.014
View details for Web of Science ID 000512977500011
View details for PubMedID 32004462
Memories of positive experiences link places, events, and reward outcomes. These memories recruit interactions between the hippocampus and nucleus accumbens (NAc). Both dorsal and ventral hippocampus (dH and vH) project to the NAc, but it remains unknown whether dH and vH act in concert or separately to engage NAc representations related to space and reward. We recorded simultaneously from the dH, vH, and NAc of rats during an appetitive spatial task and focused on hippocampal sharp-wave ripples (SWRs) to identify times of memory reactivation across brain regions. Here, we show that dH and vH awake SWRs occur asynchronously and activate distinct and opposing patterns of NAc spiking. Only NAc neurons activated during dH SWRs were tuned to task- and reward-related information. These temporally and anatomically separable hippocampal-NAc interactions point to distinct channels of mnemonic processing in the NAc, with the dH-NAc channel specialized for spatial task and reward information. VIDEO ABSTRACT.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.neuron.2019.11.022
View details for PubMedID 31864947
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC7035181
Navigation to a previously visited reward site requires a reliable and accurate spatial memory. In this issue of Neuron, Gauthier and Tank (2018) use two-photon calcium imaging to uncover a discrete hippocampal subpopulation specialized for encoding reward location.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.neuron.2018.06.037
View details for PubMedID 30001513
While ongoing experience proceeds continuously, memories of past experience are often recalled as episodes with defined beginnings and ends. The neural mechanisms that lead to the formation of discrete episodes from the stream of neural activity patterns representing ongoing experience are unknown. To investigate these mechanisms, we recorded neural activity in the rat hippocampus and prefrontal cortex, structures critical for memory processes. We show that during spatial navigation, hippocampal CA1 place cells maintain a continuous spatial representation across different states of motion (movement and immobility). In contrast, during sharp-wave ripples (SWRs), when representations of experience are transiently reactivated from memory, movement- and immobility-associated activity patterns are most often reactivated separately. Concurrently, distinct hippocampal reactivations of movement- or immobility-associated representations are accompanied by distinct modulation patterns in prefrontal cortex. These findings demonstrate a continuous representation of ongoing experience can be separated into independently reactivated memory representations.
View details for DOI 10.7554/eLife.27621
View details for PubMedID 28826483
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5576488
How does an animal know where it is when it stops moving? Hippocampal place cells fire at discrete locations as subjects traverse space, thereby providing an explicit neural code for current location during locomotion. In contrast, during awake immobility, the hippocampus is thought to be dominated by neural firing representing past and possible future experience. The question of whether and how the hippocampus constructs a representation of current location in the absence of locomotion has been unresolved. Here we report that a distinct population of hippocampal neurons, located in the CA2 subregion, signals current location during immobility, and does so in association with a previously unidentified hippocampus-wide network pattern. In addition, signalling of location persists into brief periods of desynchronization prevalent in slow-wave sleep. The hippocampus thus generates a distinct representation of current location during immobility, pointing to mnemonic processing specific to experience occurring in the absence of locomotion.
View details for DOI 10.1038/nature17144
View details for PubMedID 26934224
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5037107
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