Neural networks display the ability to transform forward-ordered activity patterns into reverse-ordered, retrospective sequences. The mechanisms underlying this transformation remain unknown. We discovered that, during active navigation, rat hippocampal CA1 place cell ensembles are inherently organized to produce independent forward- and reverse-ordered sequences within individual theta oscillations. This finding may provide a circuit-level basis for retrospective evaluation and storage during ongoing behavior. Theta phase procession arose in a minority of place cells, many of which displayed two preferred firing phases in theta oscillations and preferentially participated in reverse replay during subsequent rest. These findings reveal an unexpected aspect of theta-based hippocampal encoding and provide a biological mechanism to support the expression of reverse-ordered sequences.
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