Differential encoding of behavior and spatial context in deep and superficial layers of the neocortex

Sara N. Burke, Monica K. Chawla, Marsha R. Penner, Brynne E. Crowell, Paul F. Worley, Carol A. Barnes, Bruce L. McNaughton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


Rodent hippocampal activity is correlated with spatial and behavioral context, but how context affects coding in association neocortex is not well understood. The cellular distribution of the neural activity-regulated immediate-early gene Arc was used to monitor the activity history of cells in CA1, and in deep and superficial layers of posterior parietal and gustatory cortices (which encode movement and taste, respectively), during two behavioral epochs in which spatial and behavioral context were independently manipulated while gustatory input was held constant. Under conditions in which the hippocampus strongly differentiated behavioral and spatial contexts, deep parietal and gustatory layers did not discriminate between spatial contexts, whereas superficial layers in both neocortical regions discriminated well. Deep parietal cells discriminated behavioral context, whereas deep gustatory cortex neurons encoded the two conditions identically. Increased context sensitivity of superficial neocortical layers, which receive more hippocampal outflow, may reflect a general principle of neocortical organization for memory retrieval.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)667-674
Number of pages8
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 3 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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