Hippocampal astrocytes encode reward location

Nature. 2022 Sep;609(7928):772-778. doi: 10.1038/s41586-022-05146-6. Epub 2022 Aug 31.


Astrocytic calcium dynamics has been implicated in the encoding of sensory information1-5, and modulation of calcium in astrocytes has been shown to affect behaviour6-10. However, longitudinal investigation of the real-time calcium activity of astrocytes in the hippocampus of awake mice is lacking. Here we used two-photon microscopy to chronically image CA1 astrocytes as mice ran in familiar or new virtual environments to obtain water rewards. We found that astrocytes exhibit persistent ramping activity towards the reward location in a familiar environment, but not in a new one. Shifting the reward location within a familiar environment also resulted in diminished ramping. After additional training, as the mice became familiar with the new context or new reward location, the ramping was re-established. Using linear decoders, we could predict the location of the mouse in a familiar environment from astrocyte activity alone. We could not do the same in a new environment, suggesting that the spatial modulation of astrocytic activity is experience dependent. Our results indicate that astrocytes can encode the expected reward location in spatial contexts, thereby extending their known computational abilities and their role in cognitive functions.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astrocytes* / physiology
  • CA1 Region, Hippocampal* / cytology
  • CA1 Region, Hippocampal* / physiology
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Drinking
  • Mice
  • Reward*
  • Water


  • Water
  • Calcium