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You are here: Home Physiology I Topographically organized representation of space and context in the medial prefrontal cortex
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Topographically organized representation of space and context in the medial prefrontal cortex

Sauer JF, Folschweiller S, Bartos M (2022)

Apr 30, 2022











The neocortex is composed of areas with specialized functions (e.g., sensory versus associational). Despite this functional diversity, emerging evidence suggests that the encoding of space might be a universal feature of cortical circuits. Here, we identified a gradient of spatial tuning depth along the dorsoventral axis. A complex topography of spatial tuning properties might support a division of labor among medial prefrontal cortical subnetworks to support local circuit computation relevant for the execution of context-dependent behavioral outcomes.


Spatial tuning of neocortical pyramidal cells has been observed in diverse cortical regions and is thought to rely primarily on input from the hippocampal formation. Despite the well-studied hippocampal place code, many properties of the neocortical spatial tuning system are still insufficiently understood. In particular, it has remained unclear how the topography of direct anatomical connections from hippocampus to neocortex affects spatial tuning depth, and whether the dynamics of spatial coding in the hippocampal output region CA1, such as remapping in novel environments, is transmitted to the neocortex. Using mice navigating through virtual environments, we addressed these questions in the mouse medial prefrontal cortex, which receives direct input from the hippocampus. We found a rapidly emerging prefrontal representation of space in the absence of task rules, which discriminates familiar from novel environments and is reinstated upon reexposure to the same familiar environment. Topographical analysis revealed a dorsoventral gradient in the representation of the own position, which runs opposite to the innervation density of hippocampal inputs. Jointly, these results reveal a dynamically emerging and topographically organized prefrontal place code during spontaneous locomotion.










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