Differential responsivity of neurons in perirhinal cortex, lateral entorhinal cortex, and dentate gyrus during time-bridging learning

Hippocampus. 2019 Jun;29(6):511-526. doi: 10.1002/hipo.23041. Epub 2018 Nov 25.


Many studies have focused on the function of hippocampal region CA1 as a critical site for associative memory, but much less is known about changes in the afferents to CA1. Here we report the activity of multiple single neurons from perirhinal and entorhinal cortex and from dentate gyrus during trace eyeblink conditioning as well as consolidated recall, and in pseudo-conditioned control rabbits. We also report an analysis of theta activity filtered from the local field potential (LFP). Our results show early associative changes in single-neuron firing rate as well as theta oscillations in lateral entorhinal cortex (EC) and dentate gyrus (DG), and increases in the number of responsive neurons in perirhinal cortex. In both EC and DG, a subset of neurons from conditioned animals exhibited an elevated baseline firing rate and large responses to the conditioned stimulus and trace period. A similar population of cells has been seen in DG and in medial, but not lateral, EC during spatial tasks, suggesting that lateral EC contains cells responsive to a temporal associative task. In contrast to recent studies in our laboratory that found significant CA1 contributions to long-term memory, the activity profiles of neurons within EC and DG were similar for conditioned and pseudoconditioned rabbits during post-consolidation sessions. Collectively these results demonstrate that individual subregions of medial temporal lobe differentially support new and remotely acquired memories. Neuron firing profiles were similar on training trials when conditioned responses were and were not exhibited, demonstrating that these temporal lobe regions represent the CS-US association and do not control the behavioral response. The analysis of theta activity revealed that theta power was modulated by the conditioning stimuli in both the conditioned and pseudoconditioned groups and that although both groups exhibited a resetting of phase to the corneal airpuff, only the conditioned group exhibited a resetting of phase to the whisker conditioned stimulus.

Keywords: hippocampus; medial temporal lobe; memory consolidation; single neuron activity; trace eyeblink conditioning.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Association Learning / physiology
  • CA1 Region, Hippocampal / physiology
  • Conditioning, Eyelid / physiology*
  • Dentate Gyrus / cytology
  • Dentate Gyrus / physiology*
  • Electrophysiological Phenomena
  • Entorhinal Cortex / cytology
  • Entorhinal Cortex / physiology*
  • Female
  • Memory Consolidation / physiology
  • Mental Recall / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Perirhinal Cortex / cytology
  • Perirhinal Cortex / physiology*
  • Rabbits
  • Theta Rhythm / physiology