In order to remember significant events and find our goals the brain has to solve specific computational problems. The goal of the course is to illustrate how the neuronal activity in a brain region called hippocampus (e.g., place cells and grid cells; neurons encoding an abstract variable, the spatial location of the animals or humans) can be identified with specific steps in solving the problem of memory or navigation.
The course will start by introducing students to the cellular basis of neuronal excitability (action potentials) and feature selectivity. We will use the example of place cells to illustrate the role of plasticity in learning to be active selectively at certain locations, an essential process in creating new memories. Next we will investigate the functional neuroanatomy of the hippocampus, emphasising the role different types of neuronal networks in the process of memory storage and recall. Finally, we will discuss the relationship between navigation and memory and see examples of how the place cells and grid cell are involved in route planning and path integration.