ELSC Seminar Series
Prof. Nachum Ulanovsky
Neural Codes for Natural Behaviors in Flying Bats
This talk will focus on the importance of using natural behaviors in neuroscience research – the “Natural Neuroscience” approach. I will illustrate this point by describing studies of neural codes for spatial behaviors and social behaviors, in flying bats – using wireless neurophysiology methods that we developed – and will highlight new neuronal representations that we discovered in animals navigating through 3D spaces, or in very large-scale environments, or engaged in social interactions. In particular, I will discuss: (1) A multi-scale neural code for very large environments, which we discovered in bats flying in a 200-meter long tunnel. This new type of neural code is fundamentally different from spatial codes reported in small environments – and we show theoretically that it is superior for representing very large spaces. (2) Rapid modulation of position × distance coding in the hippocampus during collision-avoidance behavior between two flying bats. This result provides a dramatic illustration of the extreme dynamism of the neural code. (3) Local-but-not-global order in 3D grid cells – a surprising experimental finding, which can be explained by a simple physics-inspired model, which successfully describes both 3D and 2D grids. These results strongly argue against many of the classical, geometrically-based models of grid cells. (4) I will also briefly describe new results on the social representation of other individuals in the hippocampus, in a highly social multi-animal setting. The lecture will propose that neuroscience experiments – in bats, rodents, monkeys or humans – should be conducted under evermore naturalistic conditions.
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