Spatial maps and oscillations in the healthy hippocampus of Octodon degus, a natural model of sporadic Alzheimer's disease

Sci Rep. 2022 May 5;12(1):7350. doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-11153-4.


The Octodon degus is a South American rodent that is receiving increased attention as a potential model of aging and sporadic late-onset Alzheimer's disease (AD). Impairments in spatial memory tasks in Octodon degus have been reported in relation to either advanced AD-like disease or hippocampal lesion, opening the way to investigate how the function of hippocampal networks affects behavior across AD stages. However, no characterization of hippocampal electrophysiology exists in this species. Here we describe in young, healthy specimens the activity of neurons and local field potential rhythms during spatial navigation tasks with and without objects. Our findings show similarities between the Octodon degus and laboratory rodents. First, place cells with characteristics similar to those found in rats and mice exist in the CA1 subfield of the Octodon degus. Second, the introduction of objects elicits novelty-related exploration and an increase in activity of CA1 cells, with location specific and unspecific components. Third, oscillations of the local field potential are organized according to their spectral content into bands similar to those found in laboratory rodents. These results suggest a common framework of underlying mechanisms, opening the way to future studies of hippocampal dysfunction in this species associated to aging and disease.

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology
  • Alzheimer Disease* / pathology
  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Hippocampus / pathology
  • Mice
  • Octodon*
  • Rats