Frequency-specific hippocampal-prefrontal interactions during associative learning
Brincat, S.L. and Miller, E.K. (2015) Nature Neuroscience, advanced online publication

Much of our knowledge of the world depends on learning associations (for example, face-name), for which the hippocampus (HPC) and prefrontal cortex (PFC) are critical. HPC-PFC interactions have rarely been studied in monkeys, whose cognitive and mnemonic abilities are akin to those of humans. We found functional differences and frequency-specific interactions between HPC and PFC of monkeys learning object pair associations, an animal model of human explicit memory. PFC spiking activity reflected learning in parallel with behavioral performance, whereas HPC neurons reflected feedback about whether trial-and-error guesses were correct or incorrect. Theta-band HPC-PFC synchrony was stronger after errors, was driven primarily by PFC to HPC directional influences and decreased with learning. In contrast, alpha/beta-band synchrony was stronger after correct trials, was driven more by HPC and increased with learning. Rapid object associative learning may occur in PFC, whereas HPC may guide neocortical plasticity by signaling success or failure via oscillatory synchrony in different frequency bands.

About the Author

The Miller Lab uses experimental and theoretical approaches to study the neural basis of the high-level cognitive functions that underlie complex goal-directed behavior.