Place cells in the rat hippocampus play a key role in creating the animal’s internal representation of the world. During active navigation, these cells spike only in discrete locations, together encoding a map of the environment. Electrophysiological recordings have shown that the animal can revisit this map mentally during both sleep and awake states, reactivating the place cells that fired during its exploration in the same sequence in which they were originally activated. Although consistency of place cell activity during active navigation is arguably enforced by sensory and proprioceptive inputs, it remains unclear how a consistent representation of space can be maintained during spontaneous replay. We propose a model that can account for this phenomenon and suggest that a spatially consistent replay requires a number of constraints on the hippocampal network that affect its synaptic architecture and the statistics of synaptic connection strengths.

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