The hippocampus encodes delay and value information during delay-discounting decision making


The hippocampus, a region critical for memory and spatial navigation, has been implicated in delay discounting, the decline in subjective reward value when a delay is imposed. However, how delay information is encoded in the hippocampus is poorly understood. Here, we recorded from CA1 of mice performing a delay-discounting decision-making task, where delay lengths, delay positions, and reward amounts were changed across sessions, and identified subpopulations of CA1 neurons that increased or decreased their firing rate during long delays. The activity of both delay-active and -suppressed cells reflected delay length, delay position, and reward amount; but manipulating reward amount differentially impacted the two populations, suggesting distinct roles in the valuation process. Further, genetic deletion of the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor in hippocampal pyramidal cells impaired delay-discount behavior and diminished delay-dependent activity in CA1. Our results suggest that distinct subclasses of hippocampal neurons concertedly support delay-discounting decisions in a manner that is dependent on NMDA receptor function.

eLife 2020;9:e52466