Feature-selective firing allows networks to produce representations of the external and internal environments. Despite its importance, the mechanisms generating neuronal feature selectivity are incompletely understood. In many cortical microcircuits the integration of two functionally distinct inputs occurs nonlinearly through generation of active dendritic signals that drive burst firing and robust plasticity. To examine the role of this processing in feature selectivity, we recorded CA1 pyramidal neuron membrane potential and local field potential in mice running on a linear treadmill. We found that dendritic plateau potentials were produced by an interaction between properly timed input from entorhinal cortex and hippocampal CA3. These conjunctive signals positively modulated the firing of previously established place fields and rapidly induced new place field formation to produce feature selectivity in CA1 that is a function of both entorhinal cortex and CA3 input. Such selectivity could allow mixed network level representations that support context-dependent spatial maps.
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