Space distortions: towards a general framework of the hippocampal cognitive map
Dr Julija Krupic
University of Cambridge
The hippocampal formation is crucial for episodic memories and represents the internal GPS system of the brain. Although the basic spatial properties of neurons in the hippocampus and its major hub, the medial entorhinal cortex (mEC), are well characterised, questions remain about where and how spatial representations are constructed and what their functional roles are in navigation. The major theoretical models assume that hippocampal spatial representations are generated by mEC cells. Our previous findings called into question these assumptions and suggested a greater role for hippocampal spatial cells in shaping neural activity in the mEC.
I propose to manipulate neural activity at the single-cell level in a defined set of hippocampal cells projecting to the same mEC target cell and study how new representations emerge and how they are reflected in an animal’s behaviour.
The mEC is one of the first areas affected during Alzheimer’s disease and understanding the functional role the mEC plays in navigation would be an important breakthrough in the much-needed early diagnosis of the disease.