Brain aging: Changes in the nature of information coding by the hippocampus

Heikki Tanila, Matthew Shapiro, Michela Gallagher, Howard Eichenbaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Advanced age in rats is associated with a decline in spatial memory capacities dependent on hippocampal processing. As yet, however, little is known about the nature of age-related alterations in the information encoded by the hippocampus. Young rats and aged rats identified as intact or impaired in spatial learning capacity were trained on a radial arm maze task, and then multiple parameters of the environmental cues were manipulated to characterize the changes in firing patterns of hippocampal neurons corresponding to the presence of particular cues or the spatial relationships among them. The scope of information encoded by the hippocampus was reduced in memory-impaired aged subjects, even though the number of neurons responsive to salient environmental cues was not different from that in young rats. Furthermore, after repeated manipulations of the cues, memory-intact aged rats, like young rats, altered their spatial representations, whereas memory-impaired aged rats showed reduced plasticity of their representation throughout testing. Thus changes in hippocampal memory representation associated with aging and memory loss can be characterized as a rigid encoding of only part of the available information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5155-5166
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number13
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Age
  • Electrophysiology
  • Encoding
  • Place field
  • Rat
  • Representation
  • Spatial learning
  • Spatial memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Brain aging: Changes in the nature of information coding by the hippocampus'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this