The dorsal subiculum lies among a network of interconnected brain regions that collectively map multiple spatial and orientational relationships between an organism and the boundaries and pathways composing its environment. A unique role of the subiculum in spatial information processing has yet to be defined despite reports of small neuron subpopulations that encode relationships to specific boundaries, axes of travel, or locations. We examined the activity patterns among populations of subiculum neurons during performance of a spatial working memory task performed within a complex network of interconnected pathways. Compared to neurons in hippocampal sub-region CA1, a major source of its afferents, subiculum neurons were far more likely to exhibit multiple firing fields at locations that were analogous with respect to path structure and function. Subiculum neuron populations were also found to exhibit a greater dynamic range in scale of spatial representation and for persistent patterns of spiking activity to be aligned to transitions between maze segments. Together, the findings indicate that the subiculum plays a unique role in spatial mapping, one that complements the location-specific firing of CA1 neurons with the encoding of emergent and recurring structural features of a complex path network.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience