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Institute of Behavioural Neuroscience and Department of Psychology, UCL
The neural representation of space and context
The hippocampus and surrounding structures in the mammalian brain form a system that is crucial for spatial cognition, context representation and episodic memory. There is much interest in trying to understand how this system works, both for intellectual reasons and because these structures are implicated in some important clinical disorders (of which Alzheimer's disease is the best-known). Our laboratory explores the spatial representation by recording the activity of single neurons during exploration or navigation, and trying to understand how these neurons come to construct their firing patterns, as well as what these patterns are for. The work involves a mix of in vivo electrophysiology and behaviour. It is quite hands-on work that requires some patience and good problem-solving skills, but provides a fascinating insight into the micro-architecture of cognition.
1) Interaction of visual landmarks with movement cues ("path integration")
2) Role of non-spatial "contextual" cues in embellishing the metric place representation
3) Representation of space in the third dimension
Anderson, MI, Killing, S, Morris, C, O'Donoghue, A, Onyiagha, DK, Stevenson, R, Verriotis, M, Jeffery, KJ (2006)
Behavioral correlates of the population coding of spatial context.
Hippocampus, 16: 730-742
Etienne, AS and Jeffery, KJ (2004)
Path integration in mammals.
Hippocampus, 14: 180-192.
Jeffery, KJ, Anderson, MI, Hayman, R and Chakraborty, S (2004)
A proposed architecture for the neural representation of spatial context.
Neuroscience and Biobehavioural Reviews, 28: 201-218.