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Publication Detail
The Development of Spatial Behaviour and the Hippocampal Neural Representation of Space
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Publication Sub Type:
  • Authors:
    Wills TJ, Muessig L, Cacucci F
  • Publication date:
  • Journal:
    Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London: Biological Sciences
  • Status:
The role of the hippocampal formation in spatial cognition is thought to be supported by distinct classes of neurons whose firing is tuned to an organism’s position and orientation in space. In this article we review recent research focused on how and when this neural representation of space emerges during development: each class of spatially-tuned neurons appears at a different age, and matures at a different rate, but all the main spatial responses tested so far are present by three weeks of age in the rat. We also summarise the development of spatial behaviour in the rat, describing how active exploration of space emerges during the third week of life, the first evidence of learning in formal tests of hippocampus-dependent spatial cognition is observed in the fourth week, while fully adult-like spatial cognitive abilities require another few weeks to be achieved. We argue that the development of spatially-tuned neurons needs to be considered within the context of the development of spatial behaviour in order to achieve an integrated understanding of the emergence of hippocampal function and spatial cognition.
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