Cholinergic system regulation of spatial representation by the hippocampus

Sami Ikonen, Robert McMahan, Michela Gallagher, Howard Eichenbaum, Heikki Tanila

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


The role of the basal forebrain cholinergic system in hippocampal spatial representation was explored by examining the effects of immunotoxic lesions of the septo-hippocampal cholinergic neurons on the firing patterns of hippocampal place cells as rats explored familiar and novel environments. In a highly familiar environment, the basic qualities and stability of place fields were unaffected by the lesion. When first exposed to a set of novel environmental cues without otherwise disorienting the animals, place cells in both normal and lesioned animals responded with similar alterations in their firing patterns. Upon subsequent repetitive exposures to the new environment, place cells of normal rats developed a spatial representation distinct from that of the familiar environment. By contrast, place cells of lesioned animals reconverged in the direction of the representation associated with the familiar environment. These results suggest that cholinergic input may determine whether new visual information or a stored representation of the current environment will be actively processed in the hippocampal network.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)386-397
Number of pages12
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2002


  • Acetylcholine
  • Hippocampus
  • Immunotoxic lesion
  • Place cells
  • Spatial learning
  • Spatial memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Cholinergic system regulation of spatial representation by the hippocampus'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this