Arleo*, A., Zugaro*, M., Déjean, C., Burguière, E., Khamassi, M. and Wiener, S.I. (*: shared first authorship) Rat anterodorsal thalamic head direction neurons depend upon dynamic visual signals to select anchoring landmark cues. European Journal of Neuroscience, 20:530-536, 2004.

Sony CSL authors: Angelo Arleo

Abstract

Head direction cells, which are functionally coupled to place cells of the hippocampus, a structure critically involved in spatial cognition, are likely neural substrates for the sense of direction. Here we studied the mechanism by which head direction cells are principally anchored to background visual cues [M.B. Zugaro et al. (2001) J. Neurosci., 21, RC154,1 5]. Anterodorsal thalamic head direction cells were recorded while the rat foraged on a small elevated platform in a 3-m diameter cylindrical enclosure. A large card was placed in the background, near the curtain, and a smaller card was placed in the foreground, near the platform. The cards were identically marked, proportionally dimensioned, subtended the same visual angles from the central vantage point and separated by 90olsi. The rat was then disoriented in darkness, the cards were rotated by 90olsiin opposite directions about the center and the rat was returned. Preferred directions followed either the background card, foreground card or midpoint between the two cards. In continuous lighting, preferred directions shifted to follow the background cue in most cases (30 of the 53 experiments, Batschelet V-test, P < 0.01). Stroboscopic illumination, which perturbs dynamic visual signals (e.g. motion parallax), blocked this selectivity. Head direction cells remained equally anchored to the background card, foreground card or configuration of the two cards (Watson test, P > 0.1). This shows that dynamic visual signals are critical in distinguishing typically more stable background cues which govern spatial neuronal responses and orientation behaviors.

Keywords: Cue control, dynamic motion parallax, hippocampus, limbic system, single unit recordings, spatial orientation

BibTeX entry

@ARTICLE { arleo:04b, AUTHOR="Arleo*, A. and Zugaro*, M. and Déjean, C. and Burguière, E. and Khamassi, M. and Wiener, S.I. (*: shared first authorship)", JOURNAL="European Journal of Neuroscience", PAGES="530--536", TITLE="Rat anterodorsal thalamic head direction neurons depend upon dynamic visual signals to select anchoring landmark cues", VOLUME="20", YEAR="2004", }