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Ningyu Zhang

Navigation is a fundamental cognitive ability for survival. I am generally interested in how mammals use environmental information to navigate, and how such processes are represented in the brain. Animals know ‘where’ they are, estimate ‘how far’ they travel and ‘which direction’ their head faces towards during navigation, by cleverly making reference to both internal sense of travelling as well as external environment. Each type of information is represented by specific firing patterns of neurons in the brain. Recently, our lab has reported a group of compass-like bi-directional cells firing at maximum to two opposite directions when the animal was in two symmetrical compartments with different smells.

However, it is yet unknown that how animal’s internal sense of direction is influenced by stability of environmental cues, and how it might translate between different reference frames for navigation. To address such questions, my PhD study works on head direction signals in retrosplenial cortex of rats within a context combing behavioural/electrophysiological recordings, and extends to application of chemo/optogenetic approaches to selectively control the activity of brain regions involved in navigation.

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Room 512
26 Bedford Way

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