A Comparative Study of Human and Rat Hippocampal Low-Frequency Oscillations During Spatial Navigation

Andrew J. Watrous, Darrin J. Lee, Ali Izadi, Gene G. Gurkoff, Kiarash Shahlaie, Arne D. Ekstrom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

95 Scopus citations


Rhythmic oscillations within the 3-12 Hz theta frequency band manifest in the rodent hippocampus during a variety of behaviors and are particularly well characterized during spatial navigation. In contrast, previous studies of rhythmic hippocampal activity in primates under comparable behavioral conditions suggest it may be less apparent and possibly less prevalent, or even absent, compared with the rodent. We compared the relative presence of low-frequency oscillations in rats and humans during spatial navigation by using an oscillation detection algorithm ("P-episode" or "BOSC") to better characterize their presence in microelectrode local field potential (LFP) recordings. This method quantifies the proportion of time the LFP exceeds both a power and cycle duration threshold at each frequency, characterizing the presence of (1) oscillatory activity compared with background noise, (2) the peak frequency of oscillatory activity, and (3) the duration of oscillatory activity. Results demonstrate that both humans and rodents have hippocampal rhythmic fluctuations lasting, on average, 2.75 and 4.3 cycles, respectively. Analyses further suggest that human hippocampal rhythmicity is centered around ~3 Hz while that of rats is centered around ~8 Hz. These results establish that low-frequency rhythms relevant to spatial navigation are present in both the rodent and human hippocampus, albeit with different properties under the behavioral conditions tested.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)656-661
Number of pages6
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Delta
  • Hippocampus
  • Human
  • Rodent
  • Spatial navigation
  • Theta

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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