Nonoscillatory Phase Coding and Synchronization in the Bat Hippocampal Formation

Tamir Eliav, Maya Geva-Sagiv, Michael M. Yartsev, Arseny Finkelstein, Alon Rubin, Liora Las, Nachum Ulanovsky*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hippocampal theta oscillations were proposed to be important for multiple functions, including memory and temporal coding of position. However, previous findings from bats have questioned these proposals by reporting absence of theta rhythmicity in bat hippocampal formation. Does this mean that temporal coding is unique to rodent hippocampus and does not generalize to other species? Here, we report that, surprisingly, bat hippocampal neurons do exhibit temporal coding similar to rodents, albeit without any continuous oscillations at the 1–20 Hz range. Bat neurons exhibited very strong locking to the non-rhythmic fluctuations of the field potential, such that neurons were synchronized together despite the absence of oscillations. Further, some neurons exhibited “phase precession” and phase coding of the bat's position—with spike phases shifting earlier as the animal moved through the place field. This demonstrates an unexpected type of neural coding in the mammalian brain—nonoscillatory phase coding—and highlights the importance of synchrony and temporal coding for hippocampal function across species. Measurements in freely moving bats reveal that hippocampal neurons encode the animal's position through temporal coding but in the absence of the oscillations observed in rodents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1119-1130.e15
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2018
Externally publishedYes


FundersFunder number
Adelis Foundation
Human Frontiers Science ProgramHFSP RGP0062/2009-C
Horizon 2020 Framework Programme681352
European Research Council
Minerva Foundation
Israel Science FoundationISF 1017/08, ISF 1319/13


    • bats
    • comparative neurobiology
    • entorhinal cortex
    • grid cells
    • hippocampus
    • interneurons
    • neural coding
    • phase precession
    • place cells
    • theta oscillation


    Dive into the research topics of 'Nonoscillatory Phase Coding and Synchronization in the Bat Hippocampal Formation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this