Age is associated with reduced sharp-wave ripple frequency and altered patterns of neuronal variability

Jean Paul L. Wiegand, Daniel T. Gray, Lesley A. Schimanski, Peter Lipa, C. A. Barnes, Stephen L. Cowen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Spatial and episodic memory performance declines with age, and the neural basis for this decline is not well understood. Sharp-wave ripples are brief (∼70 ms) high-frequency oscillatory events generated in the hippocampus and are associated with the consolidation of spatial memories. Given the connection between ripple oscillations and memory consolidation, we investigated whether the structure of ripple oscillations and ripple-triggered patterns of single-unit activity are altered in aged rats. Local field and single-unit activity surrounding sharp-wave ripple events were examined in the CA1 region of the hippocampus of old (n = 5) and young (n = 6) F344 rats during periods of rest preceding and following performance on a place-dependent eyeblink-conditioning task. Neural responses in aged rats differed from responses in young rats in several ways. First, compared with young rats, the rate of ripple occurrence (ripple density) is reduced in aged rats during postbehavior rest. Second, mean ripple frequency during prebehavior and postbehavior rest is lower in aged animals (aged: 132 Hz; young: 146 Hz). Third, single neurons in aged animals responded more consistently from ripple to ripple. Fourth, variability in interspike intervals was greater in aged rats. Finally, neurons were tuned to a narrower range of phases of the ripple oscillation relative to young animals. Together, these results suggest that the CA1 network in aged animals has a reduced “vocabulary” of available representational states.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5650-5660
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number20
StatePublished - May 18 2016


  • Consolidation
  • Fano factor
  • Reactivation
  • Senescence
  • Spike-phase coupling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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