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Movement-related sensory and motor activity in the brain contributes to cognitive processes. We have observed that the frequency of stepping rhythm in head-fixed mice running on a jetball overlaps with the range of frequencies that characterize hippocampal rhythmic slow activity, including theta (~ 3 to 10 Hz). On average, step-cycle troughs (i.e. when the paw touches the ground) were weakly coupled to hippocampal theta oscillations. This weak coupling was sustained during a range of running speeds. In short temporal windows, step-cycle troughs were synchronous with hippocampal theta oscillatory cycle troughs, while during other periods they led or lagged behind theta cycles. Furthermore, simultaneously recorded theta rhythmic medial septal neurons in the basal forebrain were phase-coupled to both step-cycles and theta-cycles. We propose that the weak overall phase relationship of step-cycles with theta-cycles signifies a distinct mode of information processing. Transient synchronization of the step-cycle with theta may indicate the engagement of septo-hippocampal-entorhinal network with the current heading of the animal.

Original publication




Journal article


Brain Struct Funct

Publication Date



Hippocampus, Medial septum, Movement, Navigation, Stepping rhythm, Theta oscillations