Hippocampus is considered crucial for episodic memory, as confirmed by recent findings of "episode-dependent place cells" in rodent studies, and is known to show differential activity between active exploration and quiet immobility. Most place-cell studies have focused on active periods, so the hippocampal involvement in episodic representations is less well understood. Here, we draw a typology of episode-dependent hippocampal activity among three behavioral periods, presumably governed by different molecular mechanisms: Active exploration with type 1 theta, quiet alertness with type 2 theta, and consummation with large amplitude irregular activity. Five rats were trained to perform a delayed spatial alternation task with a nose-poke paradigm and 12 tetrodes were implanted for single-unit recordings. We obtained 135 CA1 pyramidal cells and found that 75 of these fired mainly during active exploration, whereas 42 fired mainly during quiet alertness and 18 during consummation. In each type of neuron, we found episode-dependent activity: 51/75, 22/42, and 15/18, respectively. These findings extend our knowledge on the hippocampal involvement in episodic memory: Episode dependency also exists during immobile periods, and functionally dissociated cell assemblies are engaged in the maintenance of episodic information throughout different events in a task sequence.
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