Better understanding of mapmaking in the brain

Aug 09, 2010

"Grid cells," which help the brain map locations, have been found for the first time outside of the hippocampus in the rat brain, according to new research from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). The finding should help further our understanding of how the brain generates the internal maps that help us remember where we have been and how to get to where we want to go.

Five years ago, researchers at NTNU's Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience were the first to discover the intricacies of how the creates internal maps using grid cells in a coordinate system. Grid cells provide geometric coordinates for locations and help the brain generate an internal grid to help in navigation. Along with place cells, which code for specific locations, head direction cells, which act like a compass, and border cells, which define the borders of an environment, grid cells enable to brain to generate a series of maps of different scales and help with recognition of specific landmarks.

Until now, however, place cells had only been found in the hippocampus and grid and border cells in the medial entorhinal cortex. But in the August issue of Nature Neuroscience, Kavli researchers report finding many intermingled with head direction and border cells in the presubiculum and parasubiculum areas of the brain, which are locations that are the source of some of the major inputs of medial entorhinal cortex.

This finding will help in particular scientists who are trying to understand the mechanisms that actually generate grid signals in the brain. The presubiculum and the parasubiculum are not the same as the medial entorhinal cortex but share some properties and connections. "It is in this direction that we should look for further explanations," says Charlotte Boccara, the first author of the paper and a researcher at the Kavli Institute.

Explore further: Newly discovered hormone mimics the effects of exercise

More information: www.nature.com/neuro/journal/v… /n8/abs/nn.2602.html

Provided by Norwegian University of Science and Technology

5 /5 (2 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

The human brain uses a grid to represent space

Jan 20, 2010

'Grid cells' that act like a spatial map in the brain have been identified for the first time in humans, according to new research by UCL scientists which may help to explain how we create internal maps of new environments.

Do mammals think in 3-D?

Jul 14, 2008

A team of neuroscientists at University College London (UCL) has begun to discover how the brain maps three-dimensional space. The work could one day aid in the understanding and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, which ...

Is sense of direction hard wired, or is it learned?

Jun 17, 2010

Are we born with an innate sense of direction, or is it learned? Research from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology's Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience suggests that the brain comes hard-wired ...

New brain cells listen before they talk

Oct 30, 2007

Newly created neurons in adults rely on signals from distant brain regions to regulate their maturation and survival before they can communicate with existing neighboring cells—a finding that has important implications ...

Recommended for you

Newly discovered hormone mimics the effects of exercise

1 hour ago

Scientists at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology have discovered a new hormone that fights the weight gain caused by a high-fat Western diet and normalizes the metabolism - effects commonly associated ...

Highly sensitive detection of malaria parasites

4 hours ago

New assays can detect malaria parasites in human blood at very low levels and might be helpful in the campaign to eradicate malaria, reports a study published this week in PLOS Medicine. An international team l ...

How fat breakdown contributes to insulin resistance

10 hours ago

New research from the University of Virginia School of Medicine has shed light on how chronic stress and obesity may contribute to type 2 diabetes. The findings point the finger at an unexpected biological perpetrator – ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.