A 4 Hz oscillation adaptively synchronizes prefrontal, VTA, and hippocampal activities

Neuron. 2011 Oct 6;72(1):153-65. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2011.08.018.


Network oscillations support transient communication across brain structures. We show here, in rats, that task-related neuronal activity in the medial prefrontal cortex (PFC), the hippocampus, and the ventral tegmental area (VTA), regions critical for working memory, is coordinated by a 4 Hz oscillation. A prominent increase of power and coherence of the 4 Hz oscillation in the PFC and the VTA and its phase modulation of gamma power in both structures was present in the working memory part of the task. Subsets of both PFC and hippocampal neurons predicted the turn choices of the rat. The goal-predicting PFC pyramidal neurons were more strongly phase locked to both 4 Hz and hippocampal theta oscillations than nonpredicting cells. The 4 Hz and theta oscillations were phase coupled and jointly modulated both gamma waves and neuronal spikes in the PFC, the VTA, and the hippocampus. Thus, multiplexed timing mechanisms in the PFC-VTA-hippocampus axis may support processing of information, including working memory.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Brain Waves / physiology*
  • Choice Behavior / physiology
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Ventral Tegmental Area / physiology*