Coherence between rat sensorimotor system and hippocampus is enhanced during tactile discrimination Journal Article

Author(s): Grion, Natalia; Akrami, Athena; Zuo, Yangfang; Stella, Federico; Diamond, Mathew E
Article Title: Coherence between rat sensorimotor system and hippocampus is enhanced during tactile discrimination
Affiliation IST Austria
Abstract: Rhythms with time scales of multiple cycles per second permeate the mammalian brain, yet neuroscientists are not certain of their functional roles. One leading idea is that coherent oscillation between two brain regions facilitates the exchange of information between them. In rats, the hippocampus and the vibrissal sensorimotor system both are characterized by rhythmic oscillation in the theta range, 5–12 Hz. Previous work has been divided as to whether the two rhythms are independent or coherent. To resolve this question, we acquired three measures from rats—whisker motion, hippocampal local field potential (LFP), and barrel cortex unit firing—during a whisker-mediated texture discrimination task and during control conditions (not engaged in a whisker-mediated memory task). Compared to control conditions, the theta band of hippocampal LFP showed a marked increase in power as the rats approached and then palpated the texture. Phase synchronization between whisking and hippocampal LFP increased by almost 50% during approach and texture palpation. In addition, a greater proportion of barrel cortex neurons showed firing that was phase-locked to hippocampal theta while rats were engaged in the discrimination task. Consistent with a behavioral consequence of phase synchronization, the rats identified the texture more rapidly and with lower error likelihood on trials in which there was an increase in theta-whisking coherence at the moment of texture palpation. These results suggest that coherence between the whisking rhythm, barrel cortex firing, and hippocampal LFP is augmented selectively during epochs in which the rat collects sensory information and that such coherence enhances the efficiency of integration of stimulus information into memory and decision-making centers.
Journal Title: PLoS Biology
Volume: 14
Issue 2
ISSN: 1545-7885
Publisher: Public Library of Science  
Date Published: 2016-02-18
Start Page: Article number: e1002384
Copyright Statement: CC BY 4.0
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1002384
Notes: We thank Eric Maris, Demian Battaglia, and Rodrigo Quian Quiroga for useful discussions. We are grateful to Fabrizio Manzino and Marco Gigante for construction of the behavioral apparatus, Igor Perkon for developing custom whisker tracking software and to Francesca Pulecchi for animal care and histological processing.
Open access: yes (OA journal)