Spatial modulation of hippocampal activity in freely moving macaques

Neuron. 2021 Nov 3;109(21):3521-3534.e6. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2021.09.032. Epub 2021 Oct 12.


The hippocampal formation is linked to spatial navigation, but there is little corroboration from freely moving primates with concurrent monitoring of head and gaze stances. We recorded neural activity across hippocampal regions in rhesus macaques during free foraging in an open environment while tracking their head and eye. Theta activity was intermittently present at movement onset and modulated by saccades. Many neurons were phase-locked to theta, with few showing phase precession. Most neurons encoded a mixture of spatial variables beyond place and grid tuning. Spatial representations were dominated by facing location and allocentric direction, mostly in head, rather than gaze, coordinates. Importantly, eye movements strongly modulated neural activity in all regions. These findings reveal that the macaque hippocampal formation represents three-dimensional (3D) space using a multiplexed code, with head orientation and eye movement properties being dominant during free exploration.

Keywords: motion tracking; non-human primate.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Hippocampus* / physiology
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Saccades
  • Spatial Navigation* / physiology