Strategic neuronal encoding in medial prefrontal cortex of spatial working memory in the T-maze

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Strategic neuronal encoding in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) of the rat was correlated with spatial working memory (sWM) assessed by behavior in the T-maze. Neurons increased their firing rate around choice, with the increase largely occurring before choice as a prospective encode of behavior. This could be classified as sensitive-to-spatial information or sensitive-to-choice outcome. The sensitivity-to-spatial choice was defined by distinct firing rate changes before left- or right-choice. The percentage of left-choice sensitive neurons was not different from the percentage of right-choice sensitive neurons. There was also location-related neuronal activity in which neurons fired at distinct rates when rats were in a left- or right-location. More neurons were sensitive to left-location, as most of them were recorded from rats preferring to enter the right-location. The sensitivity to outcome was defined by a distinct firing rate around correct or error choice. Significantly more neurons were sensitive to error outcome, and, among these, more preferred to encode prospectively, increasing firing in advance of an error outcome. Similar to single neuron activity, the mPFC enhanced its neuronal network as measured by the oscillation of local field potential. The maximum power of oscillation was around choice, and occurred slightly earlier before error versus before correct outcome. Thus, sWM modulation in the mPFC includes not only spatial, but also outcome-related inputs, and neuronal ensembles monitor behavioral outcome to make strategic adjustments ensuring successful task performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)50-60
Number of pages11
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
StatePublished - May 2 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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