Villette V - Malvache A - Tressard T - Dupuy N - Cossart R
The hippocampus is essential for spatiotemporal cognition. Sequences of neuronal activation provide a substrate for this fundamental function. At the behavioral timescale, these sequences have been shown to occur either in the presence of successive external landmarks or through internal mechanisms within an episodic memory task. In both cases, activity is externally constrained by the organization of the task and by the size of the environment explored. Therefore, it remains unknown whether hippocampal activity can self-organize into a default mode in the absence of any external memory demand or spatiotemporal boundary. Here we show that, in the presence of self-motion cues, a population code integrating distance naturally emerges in the hippocampus in the form of recurring sequences. These internal dynamics clamp spontaneous travel since run distance distributes into integer multiples of the span of these sequences. These sequences may thus guide navigation when external landmarks are reduced.