Ledberg A - Robbe D
The hippocampal theta rhythm is required for accurate navigation and spatial memory but its relation to the dynamics of locomotion is poorly understood. We used miniature accelerometers to quantify with high temporal and spatial resolution the oscillatory movements associated with running in rats. Simultaneously, we recorded local field potentials in the CA1 area of the hippocampus. We report that when rats run their heads display prominent vertical oscillations with frequencies in the same range as the hippocampal theta rhythm (i.e., 6-12 Hz). In our behavioral set-up, rats run mainly with speeds between 50 and 100 cm/s. In this range of speeds, both the amplitude and frequency of the "theta" head oscillations were increasing functions of running speed, demonstrating that the head oscillations are part of the locomotion dynamics. We found evidence that these rhythmical locomotor dynamics interact with the neuronal activity in the hippocampus. The amplitude of the hippocampal theta rhythm depended on the relative phase shift with the head oscillations, being maximal when the two signals were in phase. Despite similarity in frequency, the head movements and LFP oscillations only displayed weak phase and frequency locking. Our results are consistent with that neurons in the CA1 region receive inputs that are phase locked to the head acceleration signal and that these inputs are integrated with the ongoing theta rhythm.