Neural codes for natural navigation in the hippocampal formation of bats
The work in our lab focuses on understanding the neural basis of spatial memory and spatial cognition - using bats as our animal model. In my talk I will present some of our recent studies, which explored the following questions: (i) How does the brain represent positions and directions in 3D ? We developed miniaturized wireless-electrophysiology devices, which allowed us to reveal 3D place cells and 3D head-directions cells in the bat hippocampal formation. (ii) How are navigational goals represented in the brain ? We discovered a new kind of vectorial representation of spatial goals - whereby hippocampal neurons encode the direction and distance to the goal. (iii) I will describe our very recent discovery of "social place-cells" in the bat hippocampus - neurons that represent the position of other bats (conspecifics). (iv) Finally, I will describe ongoing work towards elucidating hippocampal neural codes in realistic, kilometer-scale environments. Our long-term vision is to develop a "Natural Neuroscience" approach for studying the neural basis of behavior - tapping into the animal's natural behaviors in complex, large-scale, naturalistic settings.