Electrophysiological characterisation of spatial memory cells in the anterior thalamic nuclei
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The Papez circuit appears to play a crucial role in the formation of episodic memory. In particular, the interconnections between the hippocampus and the anterior thalamus seem to be vital for an animal’s ability to orientate itself to and navigate through its environment. This is further supported by electrophysiological studies in freely moving rats, which have discovered neurons that encode for location (place cells) in the hippocampus and directional heading (head direction cells) in the anterodorsal and anteroventral nuclei of the thalamus. Due to the relative inaccessibility of the anteromedial nucleus of the thalamus, its electrophysiological properties are not well-characterised, and its role in spatial processing still remains elusive. In this study, we were able to successfully record from a population of head direction (20%) and theta rhythmic neurons (15%) in the anteromedial thalamic nucleus, suggesting that this structure plays an important role in the temporal–diencephalic pathways that regulate spatial processing.