16 Settembre 2019, ore 15.00
Francesca Cacucci (Department of Neuroscience, Physiology and Pharmacology, UCL London, UK)
"The role of sensory inputs in generating and sustaining cognitive maps"
The hippocampal formation contains neurons whose firing represents a code for the position and orientation of an animal in space. Collectively, these cells are thought to constitute a neural map of space, or ‘cognitive map’ (Tolman, 1948; O’Keefe &Nadel, 1978), by means of which an animal can remember locations and navigate to goals. O’Keefe &Nadel (1978) suggested that the hippocampal cognitive map may represent a Kantian synthetic a priori system, not requiring extensive experience of space for its construction, which may therefore emerge early during post-natal development. Research by ourselves and others (Wills, Cacucci et al, 2010; Langston et al, 2010) confirmed that some components of the neural map are indeed set up early during post-natal development (e.g. Head Direction cells, which code for orientation), although others emerge only after extensive experience of exploration (e.g. Grid Cells, which may provide a distance metric for space). It will review recent work from the laboratory, focused on determining which sensory cues support the emergence of spatially responsive neurons, and which aspects of network development may proceed independently of sensory input. It will also discuss data relating to the emergence of the mnemonic properties of hippocampal place cell networks. If time allows, it will review work in adult mice, which speaks to the role of landmark and self-motion cues in sustaining hippocampal spatial responses.
Aula Monesi (Ed. Scienze anatomiche, istologiche, medico-legali e dell'apparato locomotore, CU023)