Spatial Learning Drives Rapid Goal Representation in Hippocampal Ripples without Place Field Accumulation or Goal-Oriented Theta Sequences

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The hippocampus is critical for rapid acquisition of many forms of memory, although the circuit-level mechanisms through which the hippocampus rapidly consolidates novel information are unknown. Here, the activity of large ensembles of hippocampal neurons in adult male Long-Evans rats was monitored across a period of rapid spatial learning to assess how the network changes during the initial phases of memory formation and retrieval. In contrast to several reports, the hippocampal network did not display enhanced representation of the goal location via accumulation of place fields or elevated firing rates at the goal. Rather, population activity rates increased globally as a function of experience. These alterations in activity were mirrored in the power of the theta oscillation and in the quality of theta sequences, without preferential encoding of paths to the learned goal location. In contrast, during brief "offline" pauses in movement, representation of a novel goal location emerged rapidly in ripples, preceding other changes in network activity. These data demonstrate that the hippocampal network can facilitate active navigation without enhanced goal representation during periods of active movement, and further indicate that goal representation in hippocampal ripples before movement onset supports subsequent navigation, possibly through activation of downstream cortical networks.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Understanding the mechanisms through which the networks of the brain rapidly assimilate information and use previously learned knowledge are fundamental areas of focus in neuroscience. In particular, the hippocampal circuit is a critical region for rapid formation and use of spatial memory. In this study, several circuit-level features of hippocampal function were quantified while rats performed a spatial navigation task requiring rapid memory formation and use. During periods of active navigation, a general increase in overall network activity is observed during memory acquisition, which plateaus during memory retrieval periods, without specific enhanced representation of the goal location. During pauses in navigation, rapid representation of the distant goal well emerges before either behavioral improvement or changes in online activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3975-3988
Number of pages14
JournalThe Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience
Issue number19
StatePublished - May 11 2022


  • hippocampus
  • place cell
  • replay
  • sharp-wave/ripple
  • spatial memory
  • theta oscillation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Spatial Learning Drives Rapid Goal Representation in Hippocampal Ripples without Place Field Accumulation or Goal-Oriented Theta Sequences'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this