One of the research strands in the lab focuses on the sense of direction, which is supported by the head direction cells, found in a number of brain regions. The cells are thought to be organised as a "ring attractor" — a network in which activity passes from one set of cells to their neighbours, with the direction of activity flow depending on the direction of movement of the head, so that the active cells always correspond to the facing direction of the animal (see the video schematic above). As the system inevitably accumulates errors, it is corrected when the animal sees familiar directional landmarks.
- How does the system "perceive" visual landmarks?
- How does the system learn about directional landmarks and their stability?
- How do the landmarks correct the accumulated error?
- How does the system learn about different types of environment?
- How does the system work when movements occur in three dimensions instead of just two?
Relevant recent publications:
- Mitchell A, Czajkowski, R, Zhang N, Jeffery KJ and Nelson, A (2017) Retrosplenial cortex and its role in spatial cognition
Brain and Neuroscience Advances, in press (forthcoming)
- Page H, Wilson J, Jeffery KJ (2017) A proposed rule for updating of the head direction cell reference frame following rotations in three dimensions
J Neurophysiol doi: 10.1152/jn.00501.2017
- Lozano Y, Page H, Jacob P-Y, Lomi E, Street J, Jeffery KJ (2017) Retrosplenial and postsubicular head direction cells compared during visual landmark discrimination
Brain and Neuroscience Advances doi: 10.1177/2398212817721859
- Jacob P-Y J, Casali G, Spieser L, Overington DWU, Page H, Jeffery KJ (2017) An independent, landmark-dominated head direction signal in dysgranular retrosplenial cortex.
Nature Neuroscience, 20, 173-175 doi: 10.1038/nn.4465
- Knight R, Piette C, Page H, Walters D, Marozzi E, Nardini M, Stringer S, Jeffery KJ (2013) Weighted cue integration in the rodent head direction system.
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B (London), 369(1635):20120512
- Page H, Walters D, Knight R, Piette C, Jeffery KJ, Stringer S (2013) A theoretical account of cue averaging in the rodent head direction system.
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B (London), 369(1635):20130283
- Knight R, Hayman R, Ginzberg LL, and Jeffery, KJ (2011) Geometric cues influence head direction cells only weakly in non-disoriented rats.
Journal of Neuroscience, 31(44):15681-92