Spatial memories which can last a lifetime are thought to be encoded during ‘online’ periods of exploration and subsequently consolidated into stable cognitive maps through their ‘offline’ reactivation. However, the mechanisms and computational principles by which offline reactivation stabilize long-lasting spatial representations remain poorly understood. Here we employed simultaneous fast calcium imaging and electrophysiology to track hippocampal place cells over weeks of online spatial reward learning behavior and offline resting. We describe that recruitment to persistent network-level offline reactivation of spatial experiences predicts cells’ future multi-day representational stability. Moreover, while representations of reward-adjacent locations are generally more stable across days, reactivation-related stabilization is, conversely, most prominent for reward-distal locations. Thus, while occurring on millisecond time-scales, offline reactivation counter-balances the observed multi-day representational reward-adjacency bias, promoting the stabilization of cognitive maps which comprehensively reflect entire underlying spatial contexts. These findings suggest that post-learning offline-related memory consolidation plays complimentary and computationally distinct role in learning as compared to online encoding.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience