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J Physiol Paris. 2003 Jul-Nov;97(4-6):537-46.

Place cells, neocortex and spatial navigation: a short review.

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1
Laboratory of Neurobiology and Cognition, LNC/CNRS, 31 Chemin Joseph-Aiguier, 13402 Marseille 20, France. poucet@inf.cnrs-mrs.fr

Abstract

Hippocampal place cells are characterized by location-specific firing, that is each cell fires in a restricted region of the environment explored by the rat. In this review, we briefly examine the sensory information used by place cells to anchor their firing fields in space and show that, among the various sensory cues that can influence place cell activity, visual and motion-related cues are the most relevant. We then explore the contribution of several cortical areas to the generation of the place cell signal with an emphasis on the role of the visual cortex and parietal cortex. Finally, we address the functional significance of place cell activity and demonstrate the existence of a clear relationship between place cell positional activity and spatial navigation performance. We conclude that place cells, together with head direction cells, provide information useful for spatially guided movements, and thus provide a unique model of how spatial information is encoded in the brain.

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