In medial entorhinal cortex, layer 2 principal cells divide into pyramidal neurons (mostly calbindin positive) and dentate gyrus-projecting stellate cells (mostly calbindin negative). We juxtacellularly labeled layer 2 neurons in freely moving animals, but small sample size prevented establishing unequivocal structure-function relationships. We show, however, that spike locking to theta oscillations allows assigning unidentified extracellular recordings to pyramidal and stellate cells with ∼83% and ∼89% specificity, respectively. In pooled anatomically identified and theta-locking-assigned recordings, nonspatial discharges dominated, and weakly hexagonal spatial discharges and head-direction selectivity were observed in both cell types. Clear grid discharges were rare and mostly classified as pyramids (19%, 19/99 putative pyramids versus 3%, 3/94 putative stellates). Most border cells were classified as stellate (11%, 10/94 putative stellates versus 1%, 1/99 putative pyramids). Our data suggest weakly theta-locked stellate border cells provide spatial input to dentate gyrus, whereas strongly theta-locked grid discharges occur mainly in hexagonally arranged pyramidal cell patches and do not feed into dentate gyrus.
Copyright © 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.