Research ArticleNEUROSCIENCE

Egocentric boundary vector tuning of the retrosplenial cortex

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Science Advances  21 Feb 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 8, eaaz2322
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaz2322


The retrosplenial cortex is reciprocally connected with multiple structures implicated in spatial cognition, and damage to the region itself produces numerous spatial impairments. Here, we sought to characterize spatial correlates of neurons within the region during free exploration in two-dimensional environments. We report that a large percentage of retrosplenial cortex neurons have spatial receptive fields that are active when environmental boundaries are positioned at a specific orientation and distance relative to the animal itself. We demonstrate that this vector-based location signal is encoded in egocentric coordinates, is localized to the dysgranular retrosplenial subregion, is independent of self-motion, and is context invariant. Further, we identify a subpopulation of neurons with this response property that are synchronized with the hippocampal theta oscillation. Accordingly, the current work identifies a robust egocentric spatial code in retrosplenial cortex that can facilitate spatial coordinate system transformations and support the anchoring, generation, and utilization of allocentric representations.

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