We recorded hippocampal place cells in two spatial environments: a training environment in which rats underwent fear conditioning and a neutral control environment. Fear conditioning caused many place cells to alter (or remap) their preferred firing locations in the training environment, whereas most cells remained stable in the control environment. This finding indicates that aversive reinforcement can induce place cell remapping even when the environment itself remains unchanged. Furthermore, contextual fear conditioning caused significantly more remapping of place cells than auditory fear conditioning, suggesting that place cell remapping was related to the rat's learned fear of the environment. These results suggest that one possible function of place cell remapping may be to generate new spatial representations of a single environment, which could help the animal to discriminate among different motivational contexts within that environment.
- Conditioned (conditioning)
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