The ventral striatum in off-line processing: ensemble reactivation during sleep and modulation by hippocampal ripples

J Neurosci. 2004 Jul 21;24(29):6446-56. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0575-04.2004.


Previously it has been shown that the hippocampus and neocortex can spontaneously reactivate ensemble activity patterns during post-behavioral sleep and rest periods. Here we examined whether such reactivation also occurs in a subcortical structure, the ventral striatum, which receives a direct input from the hippocampal formation and has been implicated in guidance of consummatory and conditioned behaviors. During a reward-searching task on a T-maze, flanked by sleep and rest periods, parallel recordings were made from ventral striatal ensembles while EEG signals were derived from the hippocampus. Statistical measures indicated a significant amount of reactivation in the ventral striatum. In line with hippocampal data, reactivation was especially prominent during post-behavioral slow-wave sleep, but unlike the hippocampus, no decay in pattern recurrence was visible in the ventral striatum across the first 40 min of post-behavioral rest. We next studied the relationship between ensemble firing patterns in ventral striatum and hippocampal ripples-sharp waves, which have been implicated in pattern replay. Firing rates were significantly modulated in close temporal association with hippocampal ripples in 25% of the units, showing a marked transient enhancement in the average response profile. Strikingly, ripple-modulated neurons in ventral striatum showed a clear reactivation, whereas nonmodulated cells did not. These data suggest, first, the occurrence of pattern replay in a subcortical structure implied in the processing and prediction of reward and, second, a functional linkage between ventral striatal reactivation and a specific type of high-frequency population activity associated with hippocampal replay.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Animals
  • Basal Ganglia / physiology*
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Conditioning, Psychological
  • Electroencephalography
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Male
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred F344
  • Reward
  • Sleep / physiology*