A persistent prefrontal reference frame across time and task rules

Nat Commun. 2024 Mar 8;15(1):2115. doi: 10.1038/s41467-024-46350-4.


Behavior can be remarkably consistent, even over extended time periods, yet whether this is reflected in stable or 'drifting' neuronal responses to task features remains controversial. Here, we find a persistently active ensemble of neurons in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) of mice that reliably maintains trajectory-specific tuning over several weeks while performing an olfaction-guided spatial memory task. This task-specific reference frame is stabilized during learning, upon which repeatedly active neurons show little representational drift and maintain their trajectory-specific tuning across long pauses in task exposure and across repeated changes in cue-target location pairings. These data thus suggest a 'core ensemble' of prefrontal neurons forming a reference frame of task-relevant space for the performance of consistent behavior over extended periods of time.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Mice
  • Neurons* / physiology
  • Prefrontal Cortex* / physiology
  • Spatial Memory