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Role of hippocampal neurons in theta-wave generation

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Temporal relations between hippocampal unit activity and phases of the theta-waves were studied in unanesthetized rabbits immobilized with tubocurarine. When spontaneous thetarhythm potentials were recorded layer by layer from the dorsal hippocampus, a change in their polarity was observed 0.15–0.2 mm deeper than the pyramidal layer (i.e., in the radial layer). Most hippocampal neurons fired synchronously with the extracellular thetawaves. The numerous pyramidal cells, in which the spontaneous activity was inhibited during stimulation of the contralateral hippocampus and sciatic nerve and a hyperpolarization potential developed, were excited mainly during the positive phase of the theta-waves. Intracellular recording showed that their membrane potential decreased during the positive phase and increased during the negative phase. The less numerous basket cells, whose response to stimulation of the contralateral hippocampus consisted of a short high-frequency volley of spikes, and whose response to sciatic nerve stimulation was marked by a prolonged increase of frequency of the spontaneous discharges, were activated mainly during the negative phase of the theta-waves. It is concluded from these findings that inhibitory mechanisms play a role in the theta-activity of the hippocampus. It is postulated that the extracellular theta-waves are integral EPSPs of the basal dendrites and of the proximal segments of the apical dendrites, and that IPSPs of the pyramidal cell bodies play the principal role in the generation of the “intracellular theta-rhythm.”

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Additional information

A. A. Bogomolets Institute of Physiology, Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR, Kiev. Translated from Neirofiziologiya, Vol. 4, No. 5, pp. 531–539, September–October, 1972.

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Artemenko, D.P. Role of hippocampal neurons in theta-wave generation. Neurophysiology 4, 409–415 (1972). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01063013

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  • Sciatic Nerve
  • Hippocampal Neuron
  • Pyramidal Cell
  • Positive Phase
  • Negative Phase