Entorhinal Cortical Ocean Cells Encode Specific Contexts and Drive Context-Specific Fear Memory

Takashi Kitamura, Chen Sun, Jared Martin, Lacey J. Kitch, Mark J. Schnitzer, Susumu Tonegawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

52 Scopus citations

Abstract

Forming distinct representations and memories of multiple contexts and episodes is thought to be a crucial function of the hippocampal-entorhinal cortical network. The hippocampal dentate gyrus (DG) and CA3 are known to contribute to these functions, but the role of the entorhinal cortex (EC) is poorly understood. Here, we show that Ocean cells, excitatory stellate neurons in the medial EC layer II projecting into DG and CA3, rapidly form a distinct representation of a novel context and drive context-specific activation of downstream CA3 cells as well as context-specific fear memory. In contrast, Island cells, excitatory pyramidal neurons in the medial EC layer II projecting into CA1, are indifferent to context-specific encoding or memory. On the other hand, Ocean cells are dispensable for temporal association learning, for which Island cells are crucial. Together, the two excitatory medial EC layer II inputs to the hippocampus have complementary roles in episodic memory. Kitamura et al. found that entorhinal cortical Ocean cells, which project directly to hippocampal dentate gyrus and CA3, rapidly form distinct representations of different contextual environments, and are crucial for the context-specific activation of CA3 cells and context-specific fear memory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1317-1331
Number of pages15
JournalNeuron
Volume87
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 23 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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