Neural circuits for spatial orientation in adult and aged brain

Year of award: 2022


  • Dr Sepiedeh Keshavarzi

    University of Cambridge , United Kingdom

Project summary

The ability to know one's direction and location in the environment is a complex cognitive function essential for survival. The brain computes spatial orientation by using both self-motion and environmental cues. One of the major gateways through which these different spatial information reach the brain's navigation system involves the connections between the anterior thalamus and retrosplenial cortex (RSP). However, due in part to their structural diversity, the functional organisation of these circuits and their specific contributions to spatial orientation remain elusive. Moreover, although both the anterior thalamus and RSP are highly susceptible to age-related changes, their contribution to spatial cognitive decline with ageing is currently unknown.

To fill these gaps, the proposed research aims to determine:
- the specific roles that different anterior thalamus
- RSP circuits play in spatial orientation
- the organisation of synaptic inputs to these circuits and their role in spatial orientation
- cellular and synaptic changes that occur in these circuits with ageing and their impact on spatial computation and behaviour.

The findings of this research will significantly advance our understanding of how the brain implements spatial cognition and will provide novel insights into neural underpinnings of navigational deficits in old age.