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Rapid Spatial Reorientation and Head Direction Cells Michael B. Zugaro, Angelo Arleo, Alain Berthoz, and Sidney I. Wiener

Summary: Rapid Spatial Reorientation and Head Direction Cells
Michae¨l B. Zugaro, Angelo Arleo, Alain Berthoz, and Sidney I. Wiener
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique­Colle`ge de France, Laboratoire de Physiologie de la Perception et de l'Action, 75231 Paris Cedex 05, France
are turned on in a dark room. Subjectively, this appears to occur almost instantaneously, yet the neural processes permitting this rapid
including the thalamus and the hippocampus, discharge selectively when the head of an animal is oriented in a particular ("preferred")
direction. This neuronal activity is independent of position and ongoing behavior and is thus likely to constitute a physiological basis for
the sense of direction. Remarkably, although the HD cell system has properties resembling those of a compass, it is independent of
geomagnetic fields. Rather, the preferred directions of the HD cells are strongly anchored to visual cues in the environment. Here, we
bring evidence for the first time that a fundamental component of the capacity to rapidly reorient in a familiar environment may be
brought about by updating of HD cell responses as rapidly as 80 msec after changes in the visual scene. Continuous attractor networks
landmarks, activity in such networks may be propagated in abrupt jumps rather than in a gradually progressive manner.
Key words: anterodorsal thalamic nucleus; update latency; spatial memory; landmark; visual orientation; attractor network
Head direction (HD) cells discharge selectively when the head of
a monkey, rat, mouse, or chinchilla is oriented in a particular
direction of the environment, which is referred to as the preferred
direction (Ranck, 1984; Knierim et al., 1998; Taube, 1998; Blair et


Source: Arleo, Angelo - Laboratory of Neurobiology of Adaptive Processes, Université Pierre-et-Marie-Curie, Paris 6


Collections: Biology and Medicine