The hippocampal CA2 subregion has a different anatomical connectivity pattern within the entorhino-hippocampal circuit than either the CA1 or CA3 subregion. Yet major differences in the neuronal activity patterns of CA2 compared with the other CA subregions have not been reported. We show that standard spatial and temporal firing patterns of individual hippocampal principal neurons in behaving rats, such as place fields, theta modulation, and phase precession, are also present in CA2, but that the CA2 subregion differs substantially from the other CA subregions in its population coding. CA2 ensembles do not show a persistent code for space or for differences in context. Rather, CA2 activity patterns become progressively dissimilar over time periods of hours to days. The weak coding for a particular context is consistent with recent behavioral evidence that CA2 circuits preferentially support social, emotional, and temporal rather than spatial aspects of memory.
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