Hippocampal navigation and place recognition


  • Prof John O'Keefe

    University College London, United Kingdom

Project summary

The rodent hippocampus contains nerve cells which tell the animal where it is, which direction it is pointing towards, how close it is to large landmarks and how far it has travelled in familiar environments. These cells act together to provide the animal with a cognitive map, a kind of GPS in the brain which enables it to identify its current location, and to find its way towards good locations and away from bad ones. The proposed research would involve teaching the animal spatial tasks such as finding an unmarked location in a familiar environment and monitoring the activity of many hippocampal cells to see how they support navigation, and enable the brain to measure the size and shape of environments. The results will provide the foundation for research into how this part of the brain becomes dysfunctional in mouse models of Alzheimer's dementia.