Electrophysiological signatures of spatial boundaries in the human subiculum

Sang Ah Lee, Jonathan F. Miller, Andrew J. Watrous, Michael R. Sperling, Ashwini Sharan, Gregory A. Worrell, Brent M. Berry, Joshua P. Aronson, Kathryn A. Davis, Robert E. Gross, Bradley Lega, Sameer Sheth, Sandhitsu R. Das, Joel M. Stein, Richard Gorniak, Daniel S. Rizzuto, Joshua Jacobs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Environmental boundaries play a crucial role in spatial navigation and memory across a wide range of distantly related species. In rodents, boundary representations have been identified at the single-cell level in the subiculum and entorhinal cortex of the hippocampal formation. Although studies of hippocampal function and spatial behavior suggest that similar representations might exist in humans, boundary-related neural activity has not been identified electrophysiologically in humans until now. To address this gap in the literature, we analyzed intracranial recordings from the hippocampal formation of surgical epilepsy patients (of both sexes) while they performed a virtual spatial navigation task and compared the power in three frequency bands (1–4, 4–10, and 30–90 Hz) for target locations near and far from the environmental boundaries. Our results suggest that encoding locations near boundaries elicited stronger theta oscillations than for target locations near the center of the environment and that this difference cannot be explained by variables such as trial length, speed, movement, or performance. These findings provide direct evidence of boundary-dependent neural activity localized in humans to the subiculum, the homolog of the hippocampal subregion in which most boundary cells are found in rodents, and indicate that this system can represent attended locations that rather than the position of one’s own body.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3265-3272
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number13
StatePublished - Mar 28 2018


  • Boundary
  • Cognitive map
  • Human subiculum
  • Intracranial EEG
  • Navigation
  • Theta oscillations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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