NMDA-dependent phase synchronization between septal and temporal CA3 hippocampal networks

J Neurosci. 2013 May 8;33(19):8276-87. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0179-13.2013.


Increasing evidence suggests that synchronization between brain regions is essential for information exchange and memory processes. However, it remains incompletely known which synaptic mechanisms contribute to the process of synchronization. Here, we investigated whether NMDA receptor-mediated synaptic plasticity was an important player in synchronization between septal and temporal CA3 areas of the rat hippocampus. We found that both the septal and temporal CA3 regions intrinsically generate weakly synchronized δ frequency oscillations in the complete hippocampus in vitro. Septal and temporal oscillators differed in frequency, power, and rhythmicity, but both required GABAA and AMPA receptors. NMDA receptor activation, and most particularly the NR2B subunit, contributed considerably more to rhythm generation at the temporal than the septal region. Brief activation of NMDA receptors by application of extracellular calcium dramatically potentiated the septal-temporal coherence for long durations (>40 min), an effect blocked by the NMDA antagonist AP-5. This long-lasting NMDA-receptor-dependent increase in coherence was also associated with an elevated phase locking of spikes locally and across regions. Changes in coherence between oscillators were associated with increases in phase locking between oscillators independent of oscillator amplitude. Finally, although the septal CA3 rhythm preceded the oscillations in temporal regions in control conditions, this was reversed during the NMDA-dependent enhancement in coherence, suggesting that NMDA receptor activation can change the direction of information flow along the septotemporal CA3 axis. These data demonstrate that plastic changes in communication between septal and temporal hippocampal regions can arise from the NMDA-dependent phase locking of neural oscillators.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / drug effects
  • Action Potentials / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Bicuculline / pharmacology
  • Biological Clocks / drug effects
  • Biological Clocks / physiology*
  • CA3 Region, Hippocampal / cytology*
  • CA3 Region, Hippocampal / physiology
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Female
  • GABA-A Receptor Antagonists / pharmacology
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Male
  • N-Methylaspartate / metabolism*
  • Nerve Net / drug effects
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / metabolism


  • Excitatory Amino Acid Antagonists
  • GABA-A Receptor Antagonists
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate
  • N-Methylaspartate
  • Calcium
  • Bicuculline