ReportsNeuroscience

Social place-cells in the bat hippocampus

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  12 Jan 2018:
Vol. 359, Issue 6372, pp. 218-224
DOI: 10.1126/science.aao3474

You are currently viewing the abstract.

View Full Text

Log in to view the full text

Log in through your institution

Log in through your institution

The representation of others in space

Different sets of neurons encode the spatial position and orientation of an organism. However, social animals need to know the position of other individuals for social interactions, observational learning, and group navigation. Surprisingly, very little is known about how the position of other animals is represented in the brain. Danjo et al. and Omer et al. now report the discovery of a subgroup of neurons in hippocampal area CA1 that encodes the presence of conspecifics in rat and bat brains, respectively.

Science, this issue p. 213, p. 218

Abstract

Social animals have to know the spatial positions of conspecifics. However, it is unknown how the position of others is represented in the brain. We designed a spatial observational-learning task, in which an observer bat mimicked a demonstrator bat while we recorded hippocampal dorsal-CA1 neurons from the observer bat. A neuronal subpopulation represented the position of the other bat, in allocentric coordinates. About half of these “social place-cells” represented also the observer’s own position—that is, were place cells. The representation of the demonstrator bat did not reflect self-movement or trajectory planning by the observer. Some neurons represented also the position of inanimate moving objects; however, their representation differed from the representation of the demonstrator bat. This suggests a role for hippocampal CA1 neurons in social-spatial cognition.

View Full Text