Research SummaryIntermediate Fellowship research summary
One of the central objectives of systems neuroscience is to understand the neural mechanisms of learning and memory, much of which critically depends on the hippocampus. Space is the most conspicuous functional correlate of rodent hippocampal neurons. A prominent theory posits that hippocampal "place cells" constitute a spatial framework, and that items and events of experience are organized within this spatial framework to create a "cognitive map". Cortical inputs to the hippocampus are channelled through the lateral entorhinal cortex (LEC) and the medial entorhinal cortex (MEC). While MEC encodes path-integration-derived spatial information, we have recently shown that LEC encodes sensory-derived spatial as well as nonspatial information. Such sensory-derived information is critical to the cognitive map, both for anchoring the spatial representation to the real world using landmarks, as well as for storing (and processing) nonspatial information in the context of spatial information.
My primary research interest is to understand how the hippocampal network creates a coherent representation of events within their spatial context.
In this proposal, I will test whether the gating of sensory information by LEC plays a role in the creation and maintenance of the representation of space in the hippocampal system. Understanding the normal process of memory formation in the hippocampal region will facilitate our ability to mitigate the profound memory loss caused by damage to the entorhinal cortex and the hippocampus in Alzheimer's disease, stroke, traumatic brain injury and epilepsy