A Brainstem Locomotor Circuit Drives the Activity of Speed Cells in the Medial Entorhinal Cortex
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Locomotion activates an array of sensory inputs that may help build the self-position map of the medial entorhinal cortex (MEC). In this map, speed-coding neurons are thought to dynamically update representations of the animal's position. A possible origin for the entorhinal speed signal is the mesencephalic locomotor region (MLR), which is critically involved in the activation of locomotor programs. Here, we describe, in rats, a circuit connecting the pedunculopontine tegmental nucleus (PPN) of the MLR to the MEC via the horizontal limb of the diagonal band of Broca (HDB). At each level of this pathway, locomotion speed is linearly encoded in neuronal firing rates. Optogenetic activation of PPN cells drives locomotion and modulates activity of speed-modulated neurons in HDB and MEC. Our results provide evidence for a pathway by which brainstem speed signals can reach cortical structures implicated in navigation and higher-order dynamic representations of space.