Different encoding of reward location in dorsal and intermediate hippocampus.


Hippocampal place cells fire at specific locations in the environment. They form a cognitive map that encodes spatial relations in the environment, including reward locations.1 As part of this encoding, dorsal CA1 (dCA1) place cells accumulate at reward.2-5 The encoding of learned reward location could vary between the dorsal and intermediate hippocampus, which differ in gene expression and cortical and subcortical connectivity.6 While the dorsal hippocampus is critical for spatial navigation, the involvement of intermediate CA1 (iCA1) in spatial navigation might depend on task complexity7 and learning phase.8-10 The intermediate-to-ventral hippocampus regulates reward-seeking,11-15 but little is known about the involvement in reward-directed navigation. Here, we compared the encoding of learned reward locations in dCA1 and iCA1 during spatial navigation. We used calcium imaging with a head-mounted microscope to track the activity of CA1 cells over multiple days during which mice learned different reward locations. In dCA1, the fraction of active place cells increased in anticipation of reward, but the pool of active cells changed with the reward location. In iCA1, the same cells anticipated multiple reward locations. Our results support a model in which the dCA1 cognitive map incorporates a changing population of cells that encodes reward proximity through increased population activity, while iCA1 provides a reward-predictive code through a dedicated subpopulation. Both of these location-invariant codes persisted over time, and together they provide a dual hippocampal reward location code, assisting goal-directed navigation.16,17.