bioRxiv. 2023 Dec 23:2023.12.22.573160. doi: 10.1101/2023.12.22.573160. Preprint.
Local field potentials (LFPs) reflect the collective dynamics of neural populations, yet their exact relationship to neural codes remains unknown1. One notable exception is the theta rhythm of the rodent hippocampus, which seems to provide a reference clock to decode the animal’s position from spatiotemporal patterns of neuronal spiking2 or LFPs3. But when the animal stops, theta becomes irregular4, potentially indicating the breakdown of temporal coding by neural populations. Here we show that no such breakdown occurs, introducing an artificial neural network that can recover position-tuned rhythmic patterns (pThetas) without relying on the more prominent theta rhythm as a reference clock. pTheta and theta preferentially correlate with place cell and interneuron spiking, respectively. When rats forage in an open field, pTheta is jointly tuned to position and head orientation, a property not seen in individual place cells but expected to emerge from place cell sequences5. Our work demonstrates that weak and intermittent oscillations, as seen in many brain regions and species, can carry behavioral information commensurate with population spike codes.