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Control and Recalibration of Path Integration in Place Cells Using Optic Flow

By June 28, 2024No Comments

Hippocampal place cells are influenced by both self-motion (idiothetic) signals and external sensory landmarks as an animal navigates its environment. To continuously update a position signal on an internal ‘cognitive map’, the hippocampal system integrates self-motion signals over time, a process that relies on a finely calibrated path integration gain that relates movement in physical space to movement on the cognitive map. It is unclear whether idiothetic cues alone, such as optic flow, exert sufficient influence on the cognitive map to enable recalibration of path integration, or if polarizing position information provided by landmarks is essential for this recalibration. Here, we demonstrate both recalibration of path integration gain and systematic control of place fields by pure optic flow information in freely moving rats. These findings demonstrate that the brain continuously rebalances the influence of conflicting idiothetic cues to fine-tune the neural dynamics of path integration, and that this recalibration process does not require a top-down, unambiguous position signal from landmarks.