Theta rhythm of the hippocampus: subcortical control and functional significance. Academic Article uri icon


  • The theta rhythm is the largest extracellular synchronous signal that can be recorded from the mammalian brain and has been strongly implicated in mnemonic processes of the hippocampus. We describe (a) ascending brain stem-forebrain systems involved in controlling theta and nontheta (desynchronization) states of the hippocampal electroencephalogram; (b) theta rhythmically discharging cells in several structures of Papez's circuit and their possible functional significance, specifically with respect to head direction cells in this same circuit; and (c) the role of nucleus reuniens of the thalamus as a major interface between the medial prefrontal cortex and hippocampus and as a prominent source of afferent limbic information to the hippocampus. We suggest that the hippocampus receives two main types of input: theta rhythm from ascending brain stem- diencephaloseptal systems and information bearing mainly from thalamocortical/cortical systems. The temporal convergence of activity of these two systems results in the encoding of information in the hippocampus, primarily reaching it from the entorhinal cortex and nucleus reuniens.

publication date

  • September 2004