Time Cells in the Hippocampus Are Neither Dependent on Medial Entorhinal Cortex Inputs nor Necessary for Spatial Working Memory

Neuron. 2019 Jun 19;102(6):1235-1248.e5. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2019.04.005. Epub 2019 May 2.


A key function of the hippocampus and entorhinal cortex is to bridge events that are discontinuous in time, and it has been proposed that medial entorhinal cortex (mEC) supports memory retention by sustaining the sequential activity of hippocampal time cells. Therefore, we recorded hippocampal neuronal activity during spatial working memory and asked whether time cells depend on mEC inputs. Working memory was impaired in rats with mEC lesions, but the occurrence of time cells and of trajectory-coding cells in the stem did not differ from controls. Rather, the main effect of mEC lesions was an extensive spatial coding deficit of CA1 cells, which included inconsistency over time and reduced firing differences between positions on the maze. Therefore, mEC is critical for providing stable and distinct spatial information to hippocampus, while working memory (WM) maintenance is likely supported either by local synaptic plasticity in hippocampus or by activity patterns elsewhere in the brain.

Keywords: hippocampus; medial entorhinal cortex; place cells; time cells; working memory.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CA1 Region, Hippocampal / physiology*
  • CA3 Region, Hippocampal / physiology*
  • Electrophysiological Phenomena
  • Entorhinal Cortex / physiology*
  • Hippocampus / physiology
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology*
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Neuronal Plasticity
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Spatial Memory / physiology*
  • Time*