Spatial response properties of homing pigeon hippocampal neurons: Correlations with goal locations, movement between goals, and environmental context in a radial-arm arena

Gerald E. Hough, Verner P. Bingman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

35 Scopus citations

Abstract

The amniote hippocampal formation plays an evolutionarily-conserved role in the neural representation of environmental space. However, species differences in spatial ecology nurture the expectation of species differences in how hippocampal neurons represent space. To determine the spatial response properties of homing pigeon (Columba livid) HFneurons, we recorded from isolated units in birds freely navigating a radial arena in search of food present at four goal locations. Fifty of 76 neurons displayed firing rate variations that could be placed into three response categories. Location cells (N = 25) displayed higher firing rates at restricted locations in the arena space, often in proximity to goal locations. Path cells (N = 13) displayed higher firing rates as a pigeon moved between a subset of goal locations. Arena-off cells (N = 12) were more active when a pigeon was in a baseline holding space compared to inside the arena. Overall, reliability and coherence scores of the recorded neurons were lower compared to rat place cells. The differences in the spatial response profiles of pigeon hippocampal formation neurons, when compared to rats, provide a departure point for better understanding the relationship between spatial behavior and how hippocampal formation neurons participate in the representation of space.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1047-1062
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Comparative Physiology A: Neuroethology, Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology
Volume190
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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