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Space coding in hippocampo-entorhinal neuronal assemblies

Objective

Despite impressive advances in almost every field of neuroscience, our insights into brain function remain largely confined to its building blocks at the microscopic level, and to phenomenological descriptions at the macroscopic level. Understanding how complex mental functions originate from electrical and chemical processes in brain cells requires a comprehensive and integrated multi-level analysis focused on neuronal assemblies and microcircuits, where myriads of intricately connected neurons with different properties act together. We shall use the coordinator’s recent discovery of entorhinal grid cells – a key cell type in the network for spatial representation and navigation – as a model for neuronal computation in non-sensory cortical microcircuits. The crystal-like structure of the firing fields of grid cells provides an entirely new route to access the neuronal interactions responsible for pattern formation in the brain. Using a forceful combination of computational modelling and novel electrophysiological, optical and molecular research tools never applied for circuit analyses in the brain before, we shall establish the mechanisms by which microcircuits in the hippocampus and entorhinal cortex encode, maintain and update representations of location as animals move from one place to another. Insights into the underlying computations have considerable translation potential. Understanding the algorithms for spatial navigation may change the way we manage a number of diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, which commonly begins in the entorhinal cortex and has topographical disorientation as one of its most reliable symptoms, and it may provide European industry with radically innovative concepts for the design of artificial navigating agents.

Call for proposal

FP7-HEALTH-2007-A
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Funding Scheme

CP-FP - Small or medium-scale focused research project

Coordinator

NORGES TEKNISK-NATURVITENSKAPELIGE UNIVERSITET NTNU
Address
Hogskoleringen 1
7491 Trondheim
Norway
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 954 750
Administrative Contact
Edvard Moser (Prof.)

Participants (6)

AXONA LIMITED
United Kingdom
EU contribution
€ 272 250
Address
Green Lane 148
AL36EU St. Albans
Activity type
Private for-profit entities (excluding Higher or Secondary Education Establishments)
Administrative Contact
James Donnett (Mr.)
SCUOLA INTERNAZIONALE SUPERIORE DI STUDI AVANZATI DI TRIESTE
Italy
EU contribution
€ 218 250
Address
Via Bonomea 265
34136 Trieste
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Administrative Contact
Alessandro Treves (Prof.)
University College London
United Kingdom
EU contribution
€ 816 750
Address
Gower Street
WC1E 6BT London
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Administrative Contact
Kent Lee (Mr.)
University of Zurich
Switzerland
EU contribution
€ 300 750
Address
Ramistrasse 71
8006 Zurich
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Administrative Contact
Fritjof Helmchen (Prof.)
UNIVERSITATSKLINIKUM HEIDELBERG
Germany
EU contribution
€ 264 750
Address
Im Neuenheimer Feld 672
69120 Heidelberg
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Administrative Contact
Thorsten Brietz (Mr.)
WEIZMANN INSTITUTE OF SCIENCE
Israel
EU contribution
€ 172 500
Address
Herzl Street 234
7610001 Rehovot
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Administrative Contact
Tzahor Talia (Ms.)