By the same authors

From the same journal

From the same journal

Space in the brain: how the hippocampal formation supports spatial cognition

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review



Publication details

JournalPhilosophical Transactions Of The Royal Society Of London Series B - Biological Sciences
DateE-pub ahead of print - 23 Dec 2013
DatePublished (current) - 5 Feb 2014
Issue number1635
Number of pages1
Pages (from-to)20120510
Early online date23/12/13
Original languageEnglish


Over the past four decades, research has revealed that cells in the hippocampal formation provide an exquisitely detailed representation of an animal's current location and heading. These findings have provided the foundations for a growing understanding of the mechanisms of spatial cognition in mammals, including humans. We describe the key properties of the major categories of spatial cells: place cells, head direction cells, grid cells and boundary cells, each of which has a characteristic firing pattern that encodes spatial parameters relating to the animal's current position and orientation. These properties also include the theta oscillation, which appears to play a functional role in the representation and processing of spatial information. Reviewing recent work, we identify some themes of current research and introduce approaches to computational modelling that have helped to bridge the different levels of description at which these mechanisms have been investigated. These range from the level of molecular biology and genetics to the behaviour and brain activity of entire organisms. We argue that the neuroscience of spatial cognition is emerging as an exceptionally integrative field which provides an ideal test-bed for theories linking neural coding, learning, memory and cognition.

Bibliographical note

© 2013 The Author(s). Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved. This is an author produced pre-print version of a paper published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher's self-archiving policy.

    Research areas

  • hippocampus, entorhinal cortex, grid cells, place cells, head direction cells, boundary cells



  • Testing hippocampal function

    Impact: Public Health

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