Deciphering the hippocampal polyglot: The hippocampus as a path integration system

B. L. Mcnaughton, C. A. Barnes, J. L. Gerrard, K. Gothard, M. W. Jung, J. J. Knierim, H. Kudrimoti, Y. Qin, W. E. Skaggs, M. Suster, K. L. Weaver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

670 Scopus citations


Hippocampal 'place' cells and the head-direction cells of the dorsal presubiculum and related neocortical and thalamic areas appear to be part of a preconfigured network that generates an abstract internal representation of two-dimensional space whose metric is self-motion. It appears that viewpoint-specific visual information (e.g. landmarks) becomes secondarily bound to this structure by associative learning. These associations between landmarks and the preconfigured path integrator serve to set the origin for path integration and to correct for cumulative error. In the absence of familiar landmarks, or in darkness without a prior spatial reference, the system appears to adopt an initial reference for path integration independently of external cues. A hypothesis of how the path integration system may operate at the neuronal level is proposed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)173-185
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1996


  • Cognitive maps
  • Dead reckoning
  • Head-direction cells
  • Navigation
  • Place cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Insect Science


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