IRCS Conference Room
Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences
The Neurobiology for a Sense of Direction
Our research encompasses understanding the neurobiological mechanisms that underlie our sense of spatial orientation and our abilities to navigate. Animals require two types of fundamental information for accurate navigation: location and directional heading. Our studies have focused on understanding our sense of direction. We record single unit activity in freely-behaving rodents and correlate the activity with an animal’s spatial location and directional heading. Over the years we have studied a population of limbic system neurons, referred to as ‘head direction (HD) cells,’ which discharge as a function of the animal’s directional heading. Our research has addressed: 1) the properties of HD cells, 2) the neural circuitry and the generation of the HD signal, 3) involvement of vestibular and motor cues, 4) how landmark information is processed in the brain, 5) how HD cells respond in 3-D and under micro-gravity conditions, and 6) how the HD signal guides behavior. Recently, we have explored how the grid cell signal is generated in the entorhinal cortex. My seminar will address a number of these issues.