Brandon MP - Koenig J - Leutgeb S
Wiley interdisciplinary reviews. Cognitive science
The brain is able to construct internal representations that correspond to external spatial coordinates. Such brain maps of the external spatial topography may support a number of cognitive functions, including navigation and memory. The neuronal building block of brain maps are place cells, which are found throughout the hippocampus of rodents and, in a lower proportion, primates. Place cells typically fire in one or few restricted areas of space, and each area where a cell fires can range, along the dorsoventral axis of the hippocampus, from 30 cm to at least several meters. The sensory processing streams that give rise to hippocampal place cells are not fully understood, but substantial progress has been made in characterizing the entorhinal cortex, which is the gateway between neocortical areas and the hippocampus. Entorhinal neurons have diverse spatial firing characteristics, and the different entorhinal cell types converge in the hippocampus to give rise to a single, spatially modulated cell type-the place cell. We therefore suggest that parallel information processing in different classes of cells-as is typically observed at lower levels of sensory processing-continues up into higher level association cortices, including those that provide the inputs to hippocampus. WIREs Cogn Sci 2014, 5:207-219. doi: 10.1002/wcs.1272 Conflict of interest: The authors have declared no conflicts of interest for this article. For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website.