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Total recall with hippocampal engrams

Supervisors: Dr Julija Krupic, Prof Ole Paulsen

The hippocampus plays a key role in navigation, learning and memory(1). Hippocampal neurons called place cells are active in restricted portions of the environment(2). Distinct ensembles of place cells represent unique maps of different environments. It has been shown that optogenetic activation of such an ensemble of place cells can elicit the memory of an enclosure they represent(3). However, it is not clear how specific this recall is and what is its relationship to other brain areas. Here we will manipulate specific ensembles of place cells in mice navigating in virtual environments and study how this affects the dynamics of hippocampal circuitries and the animal’s perception of space.

Relevant references

J. O’Keefe, L. Nadel, The Hippocampus as a Cognitive Map (Oxford University Press, 1978).

J. O’Keefe, J. Dostrovsky, The hippocampus as a spatial map. Preliminary evidence from unit activity in the freely-moving rat. Brain Res. 34, 171–175 (1971).

S. Ramirez et al., Creating a False Memory in the Hippocampus. Science. 341, 387–391 (2013).