Head direction cell physiology and behaviour in rats (PhD)

The brain is a remarkable organ, consisting of billions of small cells working together to allow us to do what humans do. Some of them respond to relatively simple things, like a patch of light entering your eye, or pressure on your fingertips. Other cells have more complex responses: the ones I’m interested in, ‘head direction’ cells, are active when you are facing a particular direction, even when it’s dark. How do the cells know this? By recording their activity in experiments, which are informed by computer simulations, we try to find out how this part of the brain works, as an example of the kinds of complex representations that ultimately allow us to behave intelligently.

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Related Publications and Presentations

  • Matthijs Van Der Meer, Emma Wood, and “Do head direction cells underlie path integration in rats?”, FENS Abstracts, 2006.
  • Matthijs Van Der Meer, and Mark C W Van Rossum, “Anticipation in a population-coding system: a model of the inputs to rodent head direction cells”, AREADNE, Santorini, Greece, 2006.

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