June 01, 2013

How the bat brain knows its place: Michael Yartsev

The ability of animals to navigate through the world is essential for survival and has been studied by scientists for over 40 years. Scientists have identified neurons called “place cells” that reside in a part of the brain called the hippocampus. Individual place cells are active only when the animal is in a particular location in space, and populations of place cells work together to create an internal representation of the environment.

Up until now, experiments involving the hippocampus and place cells have been conducted in two-dimensional settings, often with rats running through a flat maze. Our guest this month, Dr. Michael Yartsev, a fellow at The Princeton Neuroscience Institute and previously the Weizmann Institute, is interested in how the 3D world is perceived in the brain. He hopes to figure this out by recording activity from place cells in the brains of flying bats. Listen as Dr. Yartsev describes this unique system to study an old question.

Hosted by Osama Ahmed, Karuna Meda