University of Hertfordshire

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A theoretical account of cue averaging in the rodent head direction system

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  • Hector J. I. Page
  • Daniel M. Walters
  • Rebecca Knight
  • Caitlin E. Piette
  • Kathryn J. Jeffery
  • Simon M. Stringer
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Original languageEnglish
Article number20130283
JournalPhilosophical Transactions B: Biological Sciences
Early online date5 Feb 2014
Publication statusPublished - 5 Feb 2014


Head direction (HD) cell responses are thought to be derived from a combination of internal (or idiothetic) and external (or allothetic) sources of information. Recent work from the Jeffery laboratory shows that the relative influence of visual versus vestibular inputs upon the HD cell response depends on the disparity between these sources. In this paper, we present simulation results from a model designed to explain these observations. The model accurately replicates the Knight et al. data. We suggest that cue conflict resolution is critically dependent on plastic remapping of visual information onto the HD cell layer. This remap results in a shift in preferred directions of a subset of HD cells, which is then inherited by the rest of the cells during path integration. Thus, we demonstrate how, over a period of several minutes, a visual landmark may gain cue control. Furthermore, simulation results show that weaker visual landmarks fail to gain cue control as readily. We therefore suggest a second longer term plasticity in visual projections onto HD cell areas, through which landmarks with an inconsistent relationship to idiothetic information are made less salient, significantly hindering their ability to gain cue control. Our results provide a mechanism for reliability-weighted cue averaging that may pertain to other neural systems in addition to the HD system.


Copyright 2013 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited

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