Whisking, Sniffing, and the Hippocampal θ-Rhythm: A Tale of Two Oscillators

PLoS Biol. 2016 Feb 18;14(2):e1002385. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1002385. eCollection 2016 Feb.


The hippocampus has unique access to neuronal activity across all of the neocortex. Yet an unanswered question is how the transfer of information between these structures is gated. One hypothesis involves temporal-locking of activity in the neocortex with that in the hippocampus. New data from the Matthew E. Diamond laboratory shows that the rhythmic neuronal activity that accompanies vibrissa-based sensation, in rats, transiently locks to ongoing hippocampal θ-rhythmic activity during the sensory-gathering epoch of a discrimination task. This result complements past studies on the locking of sniffing and the θ-rhythm as well as the relation of sniffing and whisking. An overarching possibility is that the preBötzinger inspiration oscillator, which paces whisking, can selectively lock with the θ-rhythm to traffic sensorimotor information between the rat's neocortex and hippocampus.

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

  • Animals
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Olfactory Perception / physiology*
  • Theta Rhythm*
  • Vibrissae / physiology*