The representation of context in mouse hippocampus is preserved despite neural drift

Nat Commun. 2022 May 3;13(1):2415. doi: 10.1038/s41467-022-30198-7.


The hippocampus is thought to mediate episodic memory through the instantiation and reinstatement of context-specific cognitive maps. However, recent longitudinal experiments have challenged this view, reporting that most hippocampal cells change their tuning properties over days even in the same environment. Often referred to as neural or representational drift, these dynamics raise questions about the capacity and content of the hippocampal code. One such question is whether and how these long-term dynamics impact the hippocampal code for context. To address this, we image large CA1 populations over more than a month of daily experience as freely behaving mice participate in an extended geometric morph paradigm. We find that long-timescale changes in population activity occur orthogonally to the representation of context in network space, allowing for consistent readout of contextual information across weeks. This population-level structure is supported by heterogeneous patterns of activity at the level of individual cells, where we observe evidence of a positive relationship between interpretable contextual coding and long-term stability. Together, these results demonstrate that long-timescale changes to the CA1 spatial code preserve the relative structure of contextual representation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Hippocampus*
  • Memory, Episodic*
  • Mice

Associated data

  • Dryad/10.5061/dryad.2z34tmpp9