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Neuron. 2006 Mar 2;49(5):747-56.

Tracking route progression in the posterior parietal cortex.

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The Neurosciences Institute, San Diego, California 92121, USA.


Quick and efficient traversal of learned routes is critical to the survival of many animals. Routes can be defined by both the ordering of navigational epochs, such as continued forward motion or execution of a turn, and the distances separating them. The neural substrates conferring the ability to fluidly traverse complex routes are not well understood, but likely entail interactions between frontal, parietal, and rhinal cortices and the hippocampus. This paper demonstrates that posterior parietal cortical neurons map both individual and multiple navigational epochs with respect to their order in a route. In direct contrast to spatial firing patterns of hippocampal neurons, parietal neurons discharged in a place- and direction-independent fashion. Parietal route maps were scalable and versatile in that they were independent of the size and spatial configuration of navigational epochs. The results provide a framework in which to consider parietal function in spatial cognition.

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