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Retrosplenial and postsubicular head direction cells compared during visual landmark discrimination

Lozano, YR; Page, H; Jacob, P-Y; Lomi, E; Street, J; Jeffery, K; (2017) Retrosplenial and postsubicular head direction cells compared during visual landmark discrimination. Brain and Neuroscience Advances , 1 pp. 1-17. 10.1177/2398212817721859. Green open access

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Visual landmarks are used by head direction (HD) cells to establish and help update the animal’s representation of head direction, for use in orientation and navigation. Two cortical regions that are connected to primary visual areas, postsubiculum (PoS) and retrosplenial cortex (RSC), possess HD cells: we investigated whether they differ in how they process visual landmarks. METHODS: We compared PoS and RSC HD cell activity from tetrode-implanted rats exploring an arena in which correct HD orientation required discrimination of two opposing landmarks having high, moderate or low discriminability. RESULTS: RSC HD cells had higher firing rates than PoS HD cells and slightly lower modulation by angular head velocity, and anticipated actual head direction by ~48 ms, indicating that RSC spiking leads PoS spiking. Otherwise, we saw no differences in landmark processing, in that HD cells in both regions showed equal responsiveness to and discrimination of the cues, with cells in both regions having unipolar directional tuning curves and showing better discrimination of the highly discriminable cues. There was a small spatial component to the signal in some cells, consistent with their role in interacting with the place cell navigation system, and there was also slight modulation by running speed. Neither region showed theta modulation of HD cell spiking. CONCLUSIONS: That the cells can immediately respond to subtle differences in spatial landmarks is consistent with rapid processing of visual snapshots or scenes; similarities in PoS and RSC responding may be due either to similar computations being performed on the visual inputs, or to rapid sharing of information between these regions. More generally, this two-cue HD cell paradigm may be a useful method for testing rapid spontaneous visual discrimination capabilities in other experimental settings.

Type: Article
Title: Retrosplenial and postsubicular head direction cells compared during visual landmark discrimination
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1177/2398212817721859
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1177/2398212817721859
Language: English
Additional information: © 2017 the Authors. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License (http://www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Keywords: Head direction cells, postsubiculum, retrosplenial cortex, landmarks, visual discrimination, spatial memory, in vivo rodent electrophysiology
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Experimental Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1575274
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