Research Article

Synaptic mechanisms of pattern completion in the hippocampal CA3 network

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Science  09 Sep 2016:
Vol. 353, Issue 6304, pp. 1117-1123
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf1836

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Abstract

The hippocampal CA3 region plays a key role in learning and memory. Recurrent CA3–CA3 synapses are thought to be the subcellular substrate of pattern completion. However, the synaptic mechanisms of this network computation remain enigmatic. To investigate these mechanisms, we combined functional connectivity analysis with network modeling. Simultaneous recording from up to eight CA3 pyramidal neurons revealed that connectivity was sparse, spatially uniform, and highly enriched in disynaptic motifs (reciprocal, convergence, divergence, and chain motifs). Unitary connections were composed of one or two synaptic contacts, suggesting efficient use of postsynaptic space. Real-size modeling indicated that CA3 networks with sparse connectivity, disynaptic motifs, and single-contact connections robustly generated pattern completion. Thus, macro- and microconnectivity contribute to efficient memory storage and retrieval in hippocampal networks.

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