Transforming visual images into cognitive maps

Year of award: 2016


  • Dr Aman Saleem

    University College London

Project summary

Memory is a fundamental aspect of our selves, defining who we are and where we have been. The seemingly inevitable impairment of memory, due to pathologies such as Alzheimers disease, or normally during ageing, afflicts large segments of the population. Therefore, understanding how memories are created and used represents a major frontier of neuroscience research.

Spatial memory has been the subject of intense research. It is both the knowledge of an environment and sensing where we are while we navigate. How does the brain use external visual images to create an internal spatial memory for navigation? While brain regions involved in vision and memory have independently been the subjects of research, we do not know how they work together.

My goal is to understand how images of visual scenes are transformed into a spatial memory. To investigate this, I will take advantage of new experimental tools: rodent virtual-reality, large-scale electrical recordings and optogenetic interventions of neural circuits. I will investigate the circuits and computations that transform visual signals into spatial signals. I will also investigate how the hippocampus combines visual information with other inputs.