GPS New Spatial/Navigation Area Discovered In The Brain.

In Brain Circuitry, Brain General Structure and Function, Brain Science by Brainy Days Ahead

GPS systems of specialized neural networks encode our location and trajectory.  Now the same researchers who won a Nobel Prize for discovering this have made a new breakthrough.  Researchers at NERF (Neuro-Electronics Research Flanders) have uncovered striking neural activity patterns in a brain area called the retrosplenial cortex that may assist with spatial memory and navigation. The prime example of spatial information coding is the firing of so called place cells in the hippocampus, a brain area known for its role in the brain’s GPS system and in memory formation. But the hippocampus is not the only brain area involved in spatial orientation and learning. The retrosplenial cortex is also highly active during navigation and memory retrieval and connects the hippocampus to the visual cortex and other areas of the brain. In this current study, scientists measured this new area’s activity in mice and compared it to the same activity in the hippocampus. With their cellular imaging technique, researchers monitored the activity of hundreds to thousands of neurons simultaneously. The neuronal activity resembled that of hippocampus. However, the retrosplenial neurons responded differently to sensory inputs. This new brain area, the retrosplenial cortex, carries rich spatial activity with mechanisms that may differ from that of the hippocampus. The researchers now plan to investigate the relationship between retrosplenial activity and its link to visual inputs and also how activity in the retrosplenial cortex relates to the development of different neuronal diseases.