A Comparison of the Firing Properties of Putative Excitatory and Inhibitory Neurons From CA1 and the Entorhinal Cortex

Loren M. Frank, Emery N. Brown, Matthew A. Wilson


The superficial layers of the entorhinal cortex (EC) provide the majority of the neocortical input to the hippocampus, and the deep layers of the EC receive the majority of neocortically bound hippocampal outputs. To characterize information transmission through the hippocampal and EC circuitry, we recorded simultaneously from neurons in the superficial EC, the CA1 region of hippocampus, and the deep EC while rodents ran for food reward in two environments. Spike waveform analysis allowed us to classify units as fast-spiking (FS) putative inhibitory cells or putative excitatory (PE) cells. PE and FS units' firing were often strongly correlated at short time scales, suggesting the presence a monosynaptic connection from the PE to FS units. EC PE units, unlike those found in CA1, showed little or no tendency to fire in bursts. We also found that the firing of FS and PE units from all regions was modulated by the ∼8 Hz theta rhythm, although the firing of deep EC FS units tended to be less strongly modulated than that of the other types of units. When we examined the spatial specificity of FS units, we determined that FS units in all three regions showed low specificity. At the same time, retrospective coding, in which firing rates were related to past position, was present in FS units from all three regions and deep EC FS units often fired in a “path equivalent” manner in that they were active in physically different, but behaviorally related positions both within and across environments. Our results suggest that while the firing of FS units from CA1 and the EC show similarly low levels of position specificity, FS units from each region differ from one another in that they mirrored the associated PE units in terms of their tendency to show more complex positional firing properties like retrospective coding and path equivalence.


  • Address for reprint requests: M. A. Wilson, E18-370, 45 Carleton St., MIT, Cambridge, MA 02139 (E-mail:wilson{at}ladyday.mit.edu).

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