Math Biology Seminar
Spatial cognition in mammals is based on an internalized representation of space, which incorporates relational, metric, angular and other types of information. A key component of this representation is a framework of qualitative spatiotemporal relationships—atopological map of the ambient space encoded by the hippocampus and complemented by more detailed metrical data provided by other brain regions. In particular, experimental studies have identified several parts of the brain where neuronal spiking explicitly represents the animal’s head orientation, which is believed to contribute directional information to the cognitive map. However, it remains unclear how these different types of spatial information may synthesize, i.e., combine into a single coherent spatial framework, and how the brain can intrinsically interpret different patterns of spiking activity as locations or directions. We propose a phenomenological model that combines the hippocampal map of locations with orientations and sheds light into how the animal can learn an affine map of the environment.