Hippocampal output profoundly impacts the interpretation of tactile input patterns in SI cortical neurons

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Due to continuous state variations in neocortical circuits, individual somatosensory cortex (SI) neurons in vivo display a variety of intracellular responses to the exact same spatiotemporal tactile input pattern. To manipulate the internal cortical state, we here used brief electrical stimulation of the output region of the hippocampus, which preceded the delivery of specific tactile afferent input patterns to digit 2 of the anesthetized rat. We find that hippocampal output had a diversified, remarkably strong impact on the intracellular response types displayed by each neuron in the primary SI to each given tactile input pattern. Qualitatively, this impact was comparable to that previously described for cortical output, which was surprising given the widely assumed specific roles of the hippocampus, such as in cortical memory formation. The findings show that hippocampal output can profoundly impact the state-dependent interpretation of tactile inputs and hence influence perception, potentially with affective and semantic components.

AuthorsEtemadi, Leila; Enander, Jonas M.D.; Jörntell, Henrik