Superficial-layer versus deep-layer lateral entorhinal cortex: Coding of allocentric space, egocentric space, speed, boundaries, and corners

Hippocampus. 2023 May;33(5):448-464. doi: 10.1002/hipo.23528. Epub 2023 Mar 25.


Entorhinal cortex is the major gateway between the neocortex and the hippocampus and thus plays an essential role in subserving episodic memory and spatial navigation. It can be divided into the medial entorhinal cortex (MEC) and the lateral entorhinal cortex (LEC), which are commonly theorized to be critical for spatial (context) and non-spatial (content) inputs, respectively. Consistent with this theory, LEC neurons are found to carry little information about allocentric self-location, even in cue-rich environments, but they exhibit egocentric spatial information about external items in the environment. The superficial and deep layers of LEC are believed to mediate the input to and output from the hippocampus, respectively. As earlier studies mainly examined the spatial firing properties of superficial-layer LEC neurons, here we characterized the deep-layer LEC neurons and made direct comparisons with their superficial counterparts in single unit recordings from behaving rats. Because deep-layer LEC cells received inputs from hippocampal regions, which have strong selectivity for self-location, we hypothesized that deep-layer LEC neurons would be more informative about allocentric position than superficial-layer LEC neurons. We found that deep-layer LEC cells showed only slightly more allocentric spatial information and higher spatial consistency than superficial-layer LEC cells. Egocentric coding properties were comparable between these two subregions. In addition, LEC neurons demonstrated preferential firing at lower speeds, as well as at the boundary or corners of the environment. These results suggest that allocentric spatial outputs from the hippocampus are transformed in deep-layer LEC into the egocentric coding dimensions of LEC, rather than maintaining the allocentric spatial tuning of the CA1 place fields.

Keywords: entorhinal cortex; hippocampus; medial temporal lobe; parahippocampal.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CA1 Region, Hippocampal
  • Entorhinal Cortex* / physiology
  • Hippocampus
  • Neocortex*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Rats