Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

The medial septum implements cortical theta oscillations, a 5-12 Hz rhythm associated with locomotion and paradoxical sleep reflecting synchronization of neuronal assemblies such as place cell sequence coding. Highly rhythmic burst-firing parvalbumin-positive GABAergic medial septal neurons are strongly coupled to theta oscillations and target cortical GABAergic interneurons, contributing to coordination within one or several cortical regions. However, a large population of medial septal neurons of unidentified neurotransmitter phenotype and with unknown axonal target areas fire with a low degree of rhythmicity. We investigated whether low-rhythmic-firing neurons (LRNs) innervated similar or different cortical regions to high-rhythmic-firing neurons (HRNs) and assessed their temporal dynamics in awake male mice. The majority of LRNs were GABAergic and parvalbumin-immunonegative, some expressing calbindin; they innervated interneurons mostly in the dentate gyrus (DG) and CA3. Individual LRNs showed several distinct firing patterns during immobility and locomotion, forming a parallel inhibitory stream for the modulation of cortical interneurons. Despite their fluctuating firing rates, the preferred firing phase of LRNs during theta oscillations matched the highest firing probability phase of principal cells in the DG and CA3. In addition, as a population, LRNs were markedly suppressed during hippocampal sharp-wave ripples, had a low burst incidence, and several of them did not fire on all theta cycles. Therefore, CA3 receives GABAergic input from both HRNs and LRNs, but the DG receives mainly LRN input. We propose that distinct GABAergic LRNs contribute to changing the excitability of the DG and CA3 during memory discrimination via transient disinhibition of principal cells.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT For the encoding and recall of episodic memories, nerve cells in the cerebral cortex are activated in precisely timed sequences. Rhythmicity facilitates the coordination of neuronal activity and these rhythms are detected as oscillations of different frequencies such as 5-12 Hz theta oscillations. Degradation of these rhythms, such as through neurodegeneration, causes memory deficits. The medial septum, a part of the basal forebrain that innervates the hippocampal formation, contains high- and low-rhythmic-firing neurons (HRNs and LRNs, respectively), which may contribute differentially to cortical neuronal coordination. We discovered that GABAergic LRNs preferentially innervate the dentate gyrus and the CA3 area of the hippocampus, regions important for episodic memory. These neurons act in parallel with the HRNs mostly via transient inhibition of inhibitory neurons.

Original publication




Journal article


J Neurosci

Publication Date





4527 - 4549


dentate gyrus, hippocampus, inhibition, medial septum, oscillations, rhythmicity, Action Potentials, Animals, CA3 Region, Hippocampal, Calbindins, Dentate Gyrus, GABAergic Neurons, Male, Memory, Episodic, Mental Recall, Mice, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Nerve Tissue Proteins, Neural Pathways, Parvalbumins, Running, Septum of Brain, Theta Rhythm, Wakefulness