Neuroscience

Virtual reality changes neuronal firing

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Science  28 Nov 2014:
Vol. 346, Issue 6213, pp. 1075
DOI: 10.1126/science.346.6213.1075-c

Place cells are a type of neuron in the brain that gives you a sense of place and allows for spatial navigation. Visual cues are important for determining place cell function, but do other sensory or motor cues also play a role? To find out, Aghajan et al. compared rats navigating mazes in the real world and rats doing the same thing in virtual reality, where the only input they received was from distal visual cues. By monitoring the firing of place cells, the authors found that these cells did not perform optimally in the rats experiencing the virtual reality mazes. These results suggest that place cells need more than just visual signals.

Nat. Neurosci. 10.1038/nn.3884 (2014).

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