In tasks of associative learning, animals establish new links between unrelated items by using information about trial outcome to strengthen correct/rewarded associations and modify incorrect/unrewarded ones. To study how hippocampal neurons convey information about reward and trial outcome during new associative learning, we recorded hippocampal neurons as monkeys learned novel object-place associations. A large population of hippocampal neurons (50%) signaled trial outcome by differentiating between correct and error trials during the period after the behavioral response. About half these cells increased their activity following correct trials (correct up cells) while the remaining half fired more following error trials (error up cells). Moreover, correct up cells, but not error up cells, conveyed information about learning by increasing their stimulus-selective response properties with behavioral learning. These findings suggest that information about successful trial outcome conveyed by correct up cells may influence new associative learning through changes in the cell's stimulus-selective response properties.
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