Dorsal CA1 hippocampal place cells form a multi-scale representation of megaspace

Bruce Harland, Marco Contreras, Madeline Souder, Jean Marc Fellous

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Spatially firing “place cells” within the hippocampal CA1 region form internal maps of the environment necessary for navigation and memory. In rodents, these neurons have been almost exclusively studied in small environments (<4 m2). It remains unclear how place cells encode a very large open 2D environment that is commensurate with the natural environments experienced by rodents and other mammals. Such an ethologically realistic environment would require a complex spatial representation, capable of simultaneously representing space at multiple overlapping fine-to-coarse informational scales. Here, we show that in a “megaspace” (18.6 m2), the majority of dorsal CA1 place cells exhibited multiple place subfields of different sizes, akin to those observed along the septo-temporal axis. Furthermore, the total area covered by the subfields of each cell was not correlated with the number of subfields, and increased with the scale of the environment. The multiple different-sized subfields exhibited by place cells in the megaspace suggest that the ensemble population of subfields form a multi-scale representation of space within the dorsal hippocampus. Our findings point to a new dorsal hippocampus ensemble coding scheme that simultaneously supports navigational processes at both fine- and coarse-grained resolutions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2178-2190.e6
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 24 2021


  • dorsal CA1
  • large environment
  • large-scale space
  • megaspace
  • multi-scale
  • multiple fields
  • place cell
  • place field
  • robot
  • spatial map

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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