How do we create or remember a mental map of our surroundings? My research has mainly focused on trying to understand how spatial memory works. I initially worked on the fascinating spatial ability of homing pigeons to find their way home, by recording their path with a GPS attached to their back. I then became more interested in understanding the neural correlates underlying spatial memory. One of the most important structure in the brain responsible of our ability to orient and memorize places is called the hippocampus. Rodent’s research has taught us a lot about the function of the hippocampus in spatial memory. In the rodent’s hippocampus, a category of neurons become active in response to a specific location in an environment, and thus are called “place cells”. During my PhD work, I was mainly interested in characterizing what features in the environment are important to modulate the place cells’ activity.
Recently, in my work at UCL, I became more interested in the functions of sleep in spatial memory. To understand how information is stored into memory during sleep, I am trying to record large scale ensemble of neurons in the hippocampus while an animal is behaving and sleeping to see if any activity during behaviour can be correlated with activity during sleep.