Hippocampal-prefrontal coherence mediates working memory and selective attention at distinct frequency bands and provides a causal link between schizophrenia and its risk gene GRIA1.
Bygrave AM., Jahans-Price T., Wolff AR., Sprengel R., Kullmann DM., Bannerman DM., Kätzel D.
Increased fronto-temporal theta coherence and failure of its stimulus-specific modulation have been reported in schizophrenia, but the psychological correlates and underlying neural mechanisms remain elusive. Mice lacking the putative schizophrenia risk gene GRIA1 (Gria1-/-), which encodes GLUA1, show strongly impaired spatial working memory and elevated selective attention owing to a deficit in stimulus-specific short-term habituation. A failure of short-term habituation has been suggested to cause an aberrant assignment of salience and thereby psychosis in schizophrenia. We recorded hippocampal-prefrontal coherence while assessing spatial working memory and short-term habituation in these animals, wildtype (WT) controls, and Gria1-/- mice in which GLUA1 expression was restored in hippocampal subfields CA2 and CA3. We found that beta (20-30 Hz) and low-gamma (30-48 Hz) frequency coherence could predict working memory performance, whereas-surprisingly-theta (6-12 Hz) coherence was unrelated to performance and largely unaffected by genotype in this task. In contrast, in novel environments, theta coherence specifically tracked exploration-related attention in WT mice, but was strongly elevated and unmodulated in Gria1-knockouts, thereby correlating with impaired short-term habituation. Strikingly, reintroduction of GLUA1 selectively into CA2/CA3 restored abnormal short-term habituation, theta coherence, and hippocampal and prefrontal theta oscillations. Although local oscillations and coherence in other frequency bands (beta, gamma), and theta-gamma cross-frequency coupling also showed dependence on GLUA1, none of them correlated with short-term habituation. Therefore, sustained elevation of hippocampal-prefrontal theta coherence may underlie a failure in regulating novelty-related selective attention leading to aberrant salience, and thereby represents a mechanistic link between GRIA1 and schizophrenia.