A New Paradigm for the Neuroscience of Navigation

2020 Seed Grant
Anirvan S. Nandy, Ph.D.
Yale University

The Serota Family Seed Grant

How do social interactions dynamically shape the neural circuits of cognition? Maps of the physical and social environment (“cognitive maps”) in the brain have been theorized to be central to cognition. In highly social species like humans, cognitive computations frequently occur in social contexts. However, it remains unknown how social contexts shape cognitive maps, especially in the primate brain. This knowledge may ultimately provide unprecedented perspectives on cognitive disorders in the human brain. The overarching goal of our proposal is to create a foundational understanding of the impact of social context on cognitive maps, and to make the first direct observations revealing the specific neural patterns that drive social interactions in the hippocampal-entorhinal circuit in non-human primates. The outcome of these studies will for the first time reveal specific neural mechanisms in the brain that underlie social navigation, paving the elucidate relevant neural dysfunctions in cognitive disorders such as social anxiety autism spectrum.

Other Grants

Lindsay M. De Biase, Ph.D., University of California Los Angeles
The Role of Microglial Lysosomes in Selective Neuronal Vulnerability
Synapses, the sites of signaling between neurons in the brain, play essential roles in learning, memory, and the health of neurons themselves. An enduring mystery is why some neurons are…
How the Nervous System Constructs Internal Models of the External World
As animals navigate their environments, they construct internal models of the external sensory world and use these models to guide their behavior. This ability to incorporate ongoing sensory stimuli into…
Xiaojing Gao, Ph.D., Stanford University
When Neural Circuits Meet Molecular Circuits: Quantitative Genetic Manipulation with Single-cell Consistency
Cells are the building blocks of our bodies. We get sick when the cells “misbehave”. The way modern gene therapies work is to introduce genes, fragments of DNA molecules that…
Rafiq Huda, Ph.D., Rutgers University
Conducting the Orchestra of Movement—Functional Role of Striatal Astrocytes in Health and Disease
Movement requires coordinated activity across a large brain-wide network. The striatum is a particularly important part of this circuit; it integrates motor-related information from many distinct brain regions to regulate…