Weighted cue integration in the rodent head direction system

Rebecca Knight, Caitlin Piette, Hector Page, Daniel Walters, Elizabeth Marozzi, Marko Nardini, Simon Stringer, Kathryn Jeffery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)
74 Downloads (Pure)


How the brain combines information from different sensory modalities and of differing reliability is an important and still-unanswered question. Using the head direction (HD) system as a model, we explored the resolution of conflicts between landmarks and background cues. Sensory cue integration models predict averaging of the two cues, whereas attractor models predict capture of the signal by the dominant cue. We found that a visual landmark mostly captured the HD signal at low conflicts: however, there was an increasing pro- pensity for the cells to integrate the cues thereafter. A large conflict presented to naive rats resulted in greater visual cue capture (less integration) than in experienced rats, revealing an effect of experience. We propose that weighted cue integration in HD cells arises from dynamic plasticity of the feed-forward inputs to the network, causing within-trial spatial redistribution of the visual inputs onto the ring. This suggests that an attractor network can implement decision processes about cue reliability using simple architecture and learning rules, thus providing a potential neural substrate for weighted cue integration.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20120512
Number of pages10
JournalPhilosophical Transactions B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1635
Early online date5 Feb 2014
Publication statusPublished - 5 Feb 2014


  • head direction cells
  • sensory cue integration
  • path integration
  • attractor dynamics
  • vision
  • vestibular system


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