Cell assembly sequences during learning are "replayed" during hippocampal ripples and contribute to the consolidation of episodic memories. However, neuronal sequences may also reflect preexisting dynamics. We report that sequences of place-cell firing in a novel environment are formed from a combination of the contributions of a rigid, predominantly fast-firing subset of pyramidal neurons with low spatial specificity and limited change across sleep-experience-sleep and a slow-firing plastic subset. Slow-firing cells, rather than fast-firing cells, gained high place specificity during exploration, elevated their association with ripples, and showed increased bursting and temporal coactivation during postexperience sleep. Thus, slow- and fast-firing neurons, although forming a continuous distribution, have different coding and plastic properties.
Copyright © 2016, American Association for the Advancement of Science.