Dentate gyrus mossy cells share a role in pattern separation with dentate granule cells and proximal CA3 pyramidal cells

Douglas GoodSmith, Heekyung Lee, Joshua P. Neunuebel, Hongjun Song, James J. Knierim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The complementary processes of pattern completion and pattern separation are thought to be essential for successful memory storage and recall. The dentate gyrus (DG) and proximal CA3 (pCA3) regions have been implicated in pattern separation, in part through extracellular recording studies of these areas. However, the DG contains two types of excitatory cells: granule cells of the granule layer and mossy cells of the hilus. Little is known about the firing properties of mossy cells in freely moving animals, and it is unclear how their activity may contribute to the mnemonic functions of the hippocampus. Furthermore, tetrodes in the dentate granule layer and pCA3 pyramidal layer can also record mossy cells, thus introducing ambiguity into the identification of cell types recorded. Using a random forests classifier, we classified cells recorded in DG (Neunuebel and Knierim, 2014) and pCA3 (Lee et al., 2015) of 16 male rats and separately examined the responses of granule cells, mossy cells, and pCA3 pyramidal cells in a local/global cue mismatch task. All three cell types displayed low correlations between the population representations of the rat’s position in the standard and cue-mismatch sessions. These results suggest that all three excitatory cell types within the DG/pCA3 circuit may act as a single functional unit to support pattern separation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9570-9584
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number48
StatePublished - Nov 27 2019


  • Dentate gyrus
  • Granule cells
  • Hippocampus
  • Mossy cells
  • Pattern separation
  • Single-unit recording

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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