Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Molecular, Cellular, and Systemic Physiology
Sharp-wave ripples (SWR) generated in the CA3 subregion of the hippocampus (HC) during rest and sleep appear to coordinate memory consolidation to the neocortex (NC) by (1) reactivating small subsets of neurons (i.e. cell-assemblies) that encode recent waking experience and (2) propagating this information through the hippocampal formation. Although CA3 self-organizes SWRs in the absence of extrinsic inputs, cortical input to the HC conveyed by perforant path (PP) may influence SWR initiation nevertheless. Still, direct evidence that PP synaptic excitation can elicit SWRs is lacking, and it is unclear how this influence might compete or interact with self-organizing mechanisms. This dissertation tested the hypothesis that CA3's SWR pattern generator would self-organize its activity in the absence of PP input, but readily entrain to such input when present. Spontaneous SWRs (sSWR) occurred in slices prepared from the ventral portion of the mouse HC. Low-intensity electrical stimulation of PP afferents evoked short-latency field EPSPs in CA3 that were often followed by precisely timed evoked SWRs (eSWR). The network and single-cell characteristics of sSWRs and eSWRs were indistinguishable, indicative of a common patter generator. PP stimuli that followed sSWRs too closely usually failed to elicit eSWRs. Using a custom MATLAB/Simulink application to control PP stimulus timing during the ~250 ms sSWR refractory period revealed a statistically significant effect of stimulus delay (25, 50, 100, and 200 ms) on eSWR incidence, reaching a value of 0.72 (95% CI = [0.61, 0.81]) 200 ms after sSWR onset. In contrast, sSWR incidence at this time was much lower (95% CI = [0.015, 0.049]). Lesions targeting the direct PP input to CA3 substantially reduced eSWR incidence. In intact slices, eSWRs were readily evoked by stimulating the medial entorhinal cortex (MEC). In summary, PP input to CA3 from the MEC can initiate SWRs at times when self-organizing mechanisms generally cannot. Assuming sSWRs convey information to the NC, the ensuing refractory period might provide an opportunity for cortical feedback to reinforce the recently engaged cell-assembly. In the absence of such feedback, CA3 could revert to its default mode of self-organized replay.
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