Interdependence between dorsal and ventral hippocampus during spatial navigation

Brain Behav. 2019 Oct;9(10):e01410. doi: 10.1002/brb3.1410. Epub 2019 Sep 30.


Introduction: The hippocampus is linked to the formation and retrieval of episodic memories and spatial navigation. In rats, it is an elongated structure divided into dorsal (septal) and ventral (temporal) regions paralleling the respective division in the posterior and anterior hippocampus in humans. The dorsal hippocampus has been suggested to be more important for spatial processing and the ventral to processing anxiety-based behaviors. Far less is known regarding the degree to which these different regions interact during information processing. The anatomical connectivity suggests a flow of information between the dorsal and ventral regions; conversely, there are also commissural connections to the contralateral hippocampus. The current study examined the extent to which information from the dorsal hippocampus interacts with processing in the ipsilateral and contralateral ventral hippocampus following the acquisition of a spatial task.

Methods: Rats were well-trained on a spatial reference version of the water maze, followed by muscimol inactivation of different hippocampal subregions in a within-animal repeated design. Various combinations of bilateral, ipsilateral, and contralateral infusions were used.

Results: Combined dorsal and ventral inactivation produced a severe impairment in spatial performance. Inactivation of only the dorsal or ventral regions resulted in intermediate impairment with performance levels falling between controls and combined inactivation. Performance was impaired during contralateral inactivation and was almost equivalent to bilateral dorsal and ventral hippocampus inactivation, while ipsilateral inactivation resulted in little impairment.

Conclusions: Taken together, results indicate that for spatial processing, the hippocampus functions as a single integrated structure along the longitudinal axis.

Keywords: contralateral; dorsal hippocampus; inactivation; ipsilateral; spatial navigation; ventral hippocampus.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Male
  • Maze Learning / physiology*
  • Models, Animal
  • Muscimol
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred F344
  • Spatial Navigation / physiology*


  • Muscimol