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Behav Neurosci. 1995 Feb;109(1):49-61.

Preferential use of the landmark navigational system by head direction cells in rats.

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Department of Psychology, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire 03755, USA.


Previous studies have identified a population of cells recorded in the postsubiculum and the anterior thalamic nucleus (ATN) that discharge as a function of an animal's head direction (HD) in the horizontal plane. The present experiments monitored HD cell activity when rats were confronted with a situation in which directional information from internal sensory sources (e.g., proprioceptive, vestibular, or motor efference copy) conflicted with directional information derived from familiar, external landmarks. Results showed that when a salient, familiar cue was reintroduced to rat's environment into a position that conflicted with the cell's current firing direction, HD cells in both the ATN and the postsubiculum shifted their preferred direction to reflect their originally established orientation with this cue. This finding suggests that sensory inputs onto HD cells from external landmark cues are capable of overriding spatial information developed through internal sensory cues.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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